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New rehab program aims to help prostitutes

By: Stacey Welsh

EL PASO COUNTY, Texas -- El Paso County plans to start up a new rehabilitation program for prostitutes to get their lives back on track, after determining that a majority of prostitution cases happen on the east side.

County grant writer Daniel Rollings said there are currently 55 pending prostitution cases in the entire county, and nearly 70 percent of those come from the east side.

"That's where our largest portion of the population is. That often tends to be where the hotels and or truck stops are where prostitutes are often found," Rollings said.

El Paso County Commissioners Court is expected to approve a final application for a state grant to fund the program Monday.

"We're applying for $150,000 that basically will provide funds for a caseworker who will be overseeing the program and then also a compliance officer," Rollings said.

County Criminal Court Judge Robert Anchondo said judges involved in the program will monitor participants and make sure they are doing well.

"Sometimes praising these individuals and making an effort on their decision to change," Anchondo said.

Anchondo also said the idea for this program started when a state statute went into effect Sept. 1 stating counties with populations of more than 200,000 can start programs like this.

The grant application will go to the Governor's Office once it passes through commissioners court.

Probation Director Magdalena Morales-Aina said each person in the program would have a designated counselor and probation officer.

"There is a huge issue with early childhood trauma, so this would be a perfect opportunity for us to introduce a different quality of life and provide access to care," Morales-Aina said.\

Tanner Hamilton lives in Horizon City, and said he's aware of prostitution in his area. Because of this, he said he is on board with the possibility of this new program.

"Sometimes people are forced into this life. That's the only choice they have. Maybe if they have other choices, they wouldn't make the bad ones," Hamilton said.



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