(Memphis) A woman arrested for giving birth to a drug addicted baby is arrested again for prostitution.
Mary Tweedlie has been in and out of jail in Memphis for years, leaving some wondering whether arresting drug addicts does any good. Some say staying in jail longer may be a way to break the cycle.
Those who see her walking the streets in South Memphis say she deserves a better life.
“She is a beautiful girl,” said Dorothy Shepard, who lives on James Road where Tweedlie’s been arrested. “She could go to a hospital if she is willing to go.”
Tweedlie has been in and out of jail since 2006. In fact, she has been arrested almost 30 times in Memphis in the last few years. Court records show she's been arrested at least 13 times for prostitution, 11 times for drugs, 2 times for not showing up to court, and one time this past January for giving birth to a baby addicted to heroin and cocaine.
“I do believe the bonds should be higher,” said Carol Wiley, the director of A Way Out. “It should be harder for them to get out.”
Wiley runs a program under Citizens for Community Values that helps women escape the sex industry. She says women getting picked-up by police, then bonding out of jail for a hundred bucks isn't going to solve the problem.
“They need a place where they can go to have some structure put in their life and have some accountability," Wiley said.
Wiley says local prisons have made huge strides in adding programs to help women, but prostitutes who get picked up and bond out the same day are not getting access to them.
She says if women, like Tweedlie, spent a little more time "in”, it might help them find a way "out".
“Because they are a lot safer in jail than they are out on the street,” said Wiley.
Otherwise, she says the system becomes a revolving door that lacks solutions, help or treatment for drug addiction that often keeps women going down a lonely road.
“They love the drug better than they love their children and better than their own life,” Wiley said.
The Department of Children Services says the state has custody of Tweedlie's newborn child and her other two children live with their father in West Virginia.
If you would like to donate to Citizens for Community Values which runs the program “A Way Out”, click here: http://www.ccvmemphis.org/.