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Report: Reduced Penalties for Prostitutes Would Save Millions


Reducing penalties for prostitution and investing in diversion programs could save the state millions of dollars, according to a new report by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, a policy research group.

Right now, state law saysa third offense for prostitution is a felony with a sentence of 180 days to two years behind bars. A report from the state's Legislative Budget Board says the average cost per day, per person for state correctional facilities was slightly over $50, or about $18,250 per person annually.

“These are individuals that have gone through a lot of trauma, who have gone through sexual abuse. They didn’t just wake up one morning and say, ‘I want to be a prostitute,’" said Ana Yáñez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. "The fact that we can give them a felony is counterproductive, it’s ineffective, and it’s costing the taxpayer about $4 million a year.”

A bill by State Representative Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, got a hearing at the Capitol on Tuesday. House Bill 2801would remove a section of the law that makes repeat prostitution a felony, and it would allow courts to require prostitutes to receive 100 hours of counseling or treatment by a faith-based or nonprofit organization.  

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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