Dallas court helping put prostitution in the past
06:41 AM CDT on Tuesday, October 28, 2008
By TIARA M. ELLIS / The Dallas Morning News
These days, Cheryl Sneed dresses more like a church lady than a lady of the night. She’s been both.
But for the last two months Mrs. Sneed and about 20 other former prostitutes have given up selling their bodies in exchange for freedom.
“These women have been where I’ve been,” said Mrs. Sneed, 49. “We were all in the bottom of life, in the depths of hell out there in those streets. This program has been a miracle to me.”
The program to which Mrs. Sneed refers is called STAR Court, which stands for Strengthening, Transition and Recovery. State District Judge Lana Myers started it in July to help get habitual prostitutes off the streets. The women usually meet in her Dallas courtroom on Monday afternoons to talk about their progress and their setbacks.
It is believed to be the only such “prostitution court” in the state.
What isn’t discussed is if prostitution should be legalized. After all, even Dallas SWAT members enjoy the company of professional escorts.
Texas Prostitution Laws
In Texas, prostitution is a misdemeanor with the possibility of up to 6 months in the county jail.
From the Texas Penal Code
Sec. 43.02. PROSTITUTION.
(a) A person commits an offense if he knowingly:
(1) offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct for a fee; or
(2) solicits another in a public place to engage with him in sexual conduct for hire.
(b) An offense is established under Subsection (a)(1) whether the actor is to receive or pay a fee. An offense is established under Subsection (a)(2) whether the actor solicits a person to hire him or offers to hire the person solicited.
(c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor…
It is the commercial aspect that makes prostitution illegal. This activity is legal unless done for a fee, or “for hire”. Kind of a strange line for morality.In the age of craigslist and internet escorts the streetwalker stereotypes are changing rapidly. Do we still want cops busting johns and hookers when Dallas has a lousy 6% crime clearance for burglaries?
Opportunity costs aside; should this conduct be constitutionally protected? In Lawrence vs. Texas SCOTUS struck down the Texas sodomy laws finding a right for adults to engage in consensual sexual activity. Shouldn’t the same logic apply to commercial sex?
[The State of Texas] seeks to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to choose to enter upon relationships in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons