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Corrections Expert: Penalties Won’t Keep Prostitutes Off the Street

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AFP PHOTO/Manuel Pedraza/Getty Images

AFP PHOTO/Manuel Pedraza/Getty Images

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St. Louis, Mo. (KMOX). Last year, St. Louis city officials debated what to do with prostitutes taking over some neighborhoods. Experts say new laws might not change much in the New Year.

“It’s a revolving door of arrests, fines, jailing and return to that,” explains Rick Seiter. Seiter spent 35 years in corrections, at the state, federal, private and academic levels — including serving as Director of Criminal Justice at St. Louis University. Seiter tells KMOX, no penalty can change the circumstances of a woman on the street. “They live in the alleys and they live under bridges. They will live with boyfriends who abuse them and put them on the streets to bring money in, and with pimps.”

Seiter contends they’re victims, “prostitution and addiction and a life on the streets was not a choice for any of these women.”

Seiter has seen prostitutes turn their lives around — if they get the right help. He was a board member of Magdalene in Nashville, a shelter, counseling, and work training program that boasts an 80-percent success rate. Now he’s on the board of Magdalene St. Louis, helping to launch a similar effort here.

Seiter admits getting support can be a hard sell, until you convince people there are many other lives at stake. “The research at Magdalene Nashville found that many or most of the people that solicited prostitutes were married, and many with children.”

As KMOX told you late last year, the group is working to secure funding to buy a home and hire staff. The goal is to open the doors in early 2014.

You can contact Magdalene St. Louis through their website http://www.magdalenestl.org or by e-mail at info@magdalenestl.org.

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Getting Prostitutes off the Streets for Good

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