AUSTIN (August 26, 2012)--Texas may be forced to reconsider a state law that allows prosecutors to charge prostitutes with felonies and send them to prison after three misdemeanor convictions.
The Austin American-Statesman reported Sunday that more than 350 prostitutes currently occupy cells in state prisons, and some officials are wondering whether that makes sense.
State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, says "it's nuts" that Texas has so many prostitutes in prison.
He told the newspaper that all the state is doing is "warehousing" people who would be better served getting treatment "so they can get out and stay out of this business."
The newspaper reports that it costs between $15,500 and $18,538 a year to house a convict in a state prison or lower-security jail.
By contrast, community-based rehabilitation programs cost about $4,300 a year.