SOUTH-CENTRAL : City Maps Out a Plan to Thwart Prostitutes
The city of Los Angeles is attempting to draw the line with prostitutes--literally.
A pilot prostitution mapping program that is already under way in Hollywood and Van Nuys is starting in south Los Angeles.
The city attorney’s office is giving people convicted of prostitution maps of the Figueroa and Washington corridors, where they are banned from the following activities: engaging motorists in conversation, soliciting or accepting rides from motorists, being parked in a vehicle with any motorist, or loitering in public to facilitate or engage in the act of prostitution.
Last month a South-Central Los Angeles woman was the first person to be jailed for violating the restrictions in the Figueroa corridor, bounded by Broadway to the east, Hoover Street to the west, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the north and 120th Street to the south.
Los Angeles Municipal Court Commissioner David A. Stephens sentenced Twilla Aikens, 36, to four months in jail and two months probation after she pleaded no contest to the charge of prostitution, officials said. Aikens had 10 prior prostitution convictions and had been warned not to be in the Figueroa strip, according to the city attorney’s office. She was arrested Dec. 14 at 71st and Figueroa streets after she asked an undercover officer for sex in return for money.
The mapping program, launched by City Atty. James K. Hahn in April, 1993, in Hollywood, was expanded to Van Nuys and is being implemented on a trial basis in south Los Angeles. So far, only three cases have been tried under this program in south Los Angeles.
“What most of us (judges or commissioners) are doing is looking at them on a case-by-case basis,” Stephens said. “If the city attorney requests it, I look at the facts, the defendant’s record and make the appropriate decision.”
Each judge decides independently whether to abide by the city attorney’s request to impose the program.
Besides the Figueroa corridor, the Washington corridor is the other hot spot for prostitution in south Los Angeles that is off-limits to prostitutes under the mapping program. The Washington corridor is bordered by Western Avenue to the east, Fairfax Avenue to the west, Venice Boulevard to the north and the Santa Monica (10) Freeway to the south.
In Hollywood, police officers monitor potential violators by arming themselves with names and photographs of prostitutes who have been given maps of the restricted areas there. That way, officers can arrest convicted prostitutes before they conduct their business. No additional personnel are needed to enforce the program.
By implementing the program, law enforcement officials hope to crack down on the growing street-crime and community problems that are attributed to prostitution.
“It’s been really successful where it’s been imposed,” said Deputy City Atty. Maria Perez-Manning, who helped get the program in place in south Los Angles. “A decrease in prostitution correlates with a decrease in crime.”