Police in northeastern Wisconsin are cracking down on prostitutes and their customers by being more aggressive about referring patrons for criminal charges.
Police in Appleton, Grand Chute and elsewhere typically had issued citations to the women and their customers, but they say that didn't do much to stem the practice. Now, they seek criminal charges, hoping that legal intervention will help people break out of the practices that keep them involved in that lifestyle, the Post-Crescent Media reported.
Outagamie County prosecutor Andrew Maier said the goal is to take a harder stance on the male customers and provide more counseling and job-training options for prostitutes. He seeks probation for those who are convicted, a sentence that comes with certain obligations.
The male customers are sent to a daylong "john school" where they learn about human trafficking and the social impact prostitution has on a community. The prostitutes are ordered to attend therapy and are offered services to help them find new ways to support themselves.
Appleton Police Lt. Steve Elliott said a big challenge is helping the women turn their lives around. Their pimps often control them with domestic abuse and many are addicted to drugs or isolated from their families, leaving them completely dependent and unable to leave.
Authorities said one reason they were cracking down was because they were seeing a rise in the number of girls forced into prostitution in their early teens.