Prostitution in Region 8

February 9, 2006 – Posted at 6:29 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR – P rostitution is frequently called the world's oldest profession. It's defined as "an act of granting sexual access for payment" and is considered illegal on a local basis in all states except Nevada. For the women who work the streets, it's a sobering reality that determines self worth by the desires and wallets of strangers.

Street walkers, call girls, hookers, whores, prostitutes...all names for women who sell sex for money and it is happening in Region 8.

It can be portrayed as glamorous....or gritty.

Region 8 has its own red light district...with plenty of traffic on Huntington and Krewson streets in downtown Jonesboro. For neighbors, it's just part of the scenery.

"By 5:30 in the afternoon, there's anywhere from six to eight at various places on the street, usually across from my house. Which I really do not like at all," said Carrie Chumbly who lives on Huntington Street.

Krewson Street resident Sue Majewski agrees.

"When I first moved on this street, it wasn't anything to see it every ten minutes. Now, it's about every hour and hour and a half, two hours," said Majewski.

But for about two dozen women in Jonesboro ...these streets are a reality.  Many have suffered from years of abuse and often fight addictions of meth and crack cocaine....a vicious cycle that keeps them working as prostitutes.

"A lot of times there are underlying reasons why they are out there to begin with and these reasons seem to draw them right back to the same activity," said Jonesboro Police Department Sgt. Stephen McDaniel.

The courts and the police department are limited in what they can do about the problem. For many women, getting arrested for prostitution is a revolving door. First time offenders face a Class B misdemeanor, up to a $500 fine and less then 90 days in jail. But by law, you will get into more trouble for stealing a candy bar. That is a Class A misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine and jail time up to a year.

"Typically it's not a crime you would go to prison for or anything like that. It involves a fine and some short jail time and then they are right back out on the street," said Sgt. McDaniel.

For these women, it's a hard life on the streets....and for those trying to help them, it can be even more frustrating.

"You can just be standing here and somebody come along and they'll throw them out. They don't care. They really do not care. They just get them and toss them out like they were trash, and they show no respect. That's not cool. Everybody is a human being," said Majewski.

But the cliental might surprise you.

"You would be surprised at some of the men that come by that want to pick them up. We're talking corporate men. People in big nice cars. It's not just the druggies picking them up and beating them up, it's corporate too. It's people with businesses and stuff like that," said Majewski.