Concentrate on exposing and arresting the johns and confiscating their vehicles, and bust the crack dealers big time. Business and then the crack supply will dry up and move somewhere else.
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Giving $5 or $10 blow jobs paid for crack. When her husband went to sleep in their room at Allen's Motel, she told him she was going to sit outside. In the morning, she came home with nearly $200. "I said, 'Look what I found, some money on the ground,' " she says. "But he knew I was lying."
Last year, she was arrested after agreeing to give an undercover cop a $10 blow job. She says her kids told her to stop working. "I've got grandbabies," she says. "I don't do it no more." McBee says she hasn't turned a trick, smoked a rock or been arrested in about a year. Fleming says that when undercover cops ask if she's working, she always says no.
McBee isn't used to sleeping nights. Sometimes she sits on the steps of the motel. She watches women head to work. "They just walk out the door and get in a truck," she says.
McBee still walks on the business side of the street, watching cars. Habit, she says. She looks like she doesn't have any place she wants to go.
This morning three men have pulled over and asked if she's working. "I say, 'No. I'm just walking home.' "
Fleming has arrested hundreds of prostitutes. All but one was addicted to crack. Most of them were born on the island or grew up nearby. Fleming says there are a few out-of-town girls, but not many.
When he arrests a hooker Fleming asks how and why she became a prostitute. It's always a variation on the same theme: Girl tries crack, girl falls in love with crack, girl wants more crack, girl spends all her money on crack, girl needs to make more money to get more crack. And prostitution is the quickest way for women to make cash, Fleming says.
One whore told Fleming that she made $50,000 a year. She spent it all on crack.
"They make the money and go smoke it up," he says. Since prostitutes and crack dealers work out of the same cheap motels, rocks are delivered like room service.
Another former prostitute, who smoked a rock before being interviewed, says that the average hooker spends $300 to $400 a day on crack. A dime rock only gives about a 20-minute high, she says. "Then they've got to go back." And if the prostitute is crashing in someone else's house or hotel room, the crack goes more quickly. "They've got to share it. And it goes even faster," she says. "They have to go back out there and catch another trick. It's a nonstop thing."
After a prostitute's first or second conviction, the district attorney usually offers probation, including drug rehab and counseling, instead of jail time. But the women don't always take it. "You can't force it on them. But it's certainly available," Ibrahim says.
Despite prior offenses, most women don't stay locked up for much more than a week, Fleming says. And that isn't long enough to kill the craving. "When they get out, they're hitting the streets as hard as they can," he says. Almost every crack whore he's seen go through rehab immediately starts smoking and turning tricks again.
Some hookers disappear off the streets for a year or two, Fleming says. But, he adds, they always come back. Increasingly, they're coming back to the harsh glare of morning light.