Tougher Penalties On Prostitution May Be On The Way In Montgomery

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- One by one suspects like Mary Barnett, Misty Campbell and grandmother Barbara Hall got caught in Friday's prostitution sting. Businesses on the other hand applauded the undercover work.

Javiar Pitts runs a welding shop, a business he's owned since 1964.  He says prostitutes often try to make deals near the front of his business on Mobile Highway but all he has to do is point and they leave.

"You have to keep a check on it or it'll get out of control," says Pitts.

"I feel sorry for them. They're apparently addicted to drugs and they're in a bad place in life," said Charlie Matthews, another business owner along Mobile Highway.

And because they're in a bad place in life, Matthews feels these very same women will be back on the streets.

Change, however, just might be on the way. The Montgomery City Council could consider in its work session Tuesday afternoon to strengthen the penalties.  Right now prostitution is a misdemeanor, meaning the court could impose a fine or jail time. The proposal floating around the city is automatic jail time, perhaps on the first offense.

One business owner refused to talk about the issue because he says he's fed up, feels as though the city isn't really serious about cleaning up the prostitution. City leaders disagree, pointing to the fact that police often conduct stings along Mobile Highway.

"3 or 4 months ago they did the same thing and it had an impact and this will have an impact but they need to do it more often and stay on top of it," Matthews said.

Three days later the only one still in jail is Barbara Hall, the only one charged with the felony of 'promoting prostitution.' Her bond is set at $2,500.