Prostitute Sting in South Memphis

(Memphis) Around a dozen prostitutes are having to bond out of jail after a late night vice sting in South Memphis. People who live in the area say prostitution is a problem but wonder if arresting the women helps to address the issue.

Memphis police say the women were all dressed up to sell sex and doing just that on the streets of South Memphis. In an undercover sting Wednesday night, vice officers picked-up about a dozen women who, they say, were trying to sell themselves for as little as five dollars.

Police say one of the women was picked up at Orgill and Bellevue. They say Tressea McKinley offered-up sex within a mile and a half from an elementary school.

“It’s horrible,” said Resident Donte Williams. “They stand on corners. They wear anything, and I mean they look real bad. It makes our neighborhood look bad.”

MPD agrees. It says that’s why it did the sting.

But Donte Williams wonders if it will do any good.

“It isn’t going to do no good if you come get them last night and then today I see the same prostitute doing the same thing,” said Williams. “Instead of throwing them in jail, put them in a program and try to help them out.”

That’s where George Kuykendall comes in.

“We’ve taken in 350 women in the last ten years,” he said.

He’s with Citizens for Community Values that runs a program called “A Way Out”. It helps sex workers get treatment, work skills, and a better life. He says the organization has built a relationship with MPD’s vice team and he hopes the officers are spreading the word about the program to the women they arrest, “We’ve had FBI refer people to us. A lot of judges.”

But Kuykendall admits he’s got twelve spots in the program and right now they all are filled.

“And if [the women] have to wait, they’ll be back on the street,” he said.

And that’s likely where the woman arrested will be soon. Almost all of them have bonds set at 100 dollars.

If you would like to know more about “A Way Out”, contact Citizens for Community Values at 901-452-7884 or go to http://www.ccvmemphis.org.

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