Dallas police aim to help, not jail, prostitutes

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas law enforcement agents are trying to help prostitutes turn their lives around with a shot at rehab instead of jail.

Dallas police Sgt. Louis Felini started the program after getting five prostitutes into a drug rehab program. Each of the women kicked her habit and gave up prostitution.

Felini says he thought if they could do it, others could, too.

Each month, police round up prostitutes working an area with four major truck stops. The women get medical and social service screenings. If they have no felony warrants, a judge allows them to choose between rehab and jail.

Police in Atlanta, Fort Worth and elsewhere are looking at the program as a possible model. Dallas officers say the key is treating prostitutes as sex crime victims, not criminals.