Prostitution and Diversion

In September 2018, Austin Police Department conducted a series of prostitution stings resulting in 36 arrests. About two-thirds of these arrests were people selling sex, and about one-third people buying. Twenty of these arrests were in the Georgian Acres neighborhood planning area.

According to APD data, more than 20% of the prostitution arrests this year in the city of Austin have been in Georgian Acres. (For comparison, Georgian Acres is less than 1% of the land area and a little over 1% of the population of the city.) According to researcher Torie Camp:

Prostitution has significant negative impacts on communities. The presence and impact of street-based prostitution is particularly apparent and can cause a range of problems for residents living nearby. Common complaints include solicitation of residents by sex workers, propositioning of residents by johns, sexual activity in public spaces or cars, feelings of intimidation, and criminal activity such as drug dealing and theft which may accompany prostitution. The combination of some or all of these factors leads to disinvestment…

The negative effects of prostitution are most acutely experienced by the sex workers themselves. Unfortunately, physical, emotional and sexual violence, including rape, are prevalent experiences for those involved in prostitution. Street-based prostitutes, in particular, face more frequent and more extreme forms of violence.

In Travis County, some of the people arrested for selling sex have their cases diverted to a special Phoenix Court. “This is an example of a trend in criminal justice practice towards adoption of public health strategies and interventions. Individuals … receive holistic and individualized care to support their exit from ‘the life.’ Upon completion of the program, the original charge of prostitution is dismissed and can also be expunged.”

Here’s more information about Phoenix Court:
Phoenix Court: An Evaluation of Travis County’s Prostitution Diversion Program
Program defunded by Texas still helping prostitutes in Austin make a new life

People convicted of buying sex may be required to attend “john school”, for education on the impacts of prostitution, but this does not dismiss their charges.

2015 background information on prostitution diversion programs

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