Bexar County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to move ahead with a $75,000 grant application to fund a prostitute prevention program.
The program would provide felony prostitutes with counseling, housing, and therapy.
Judge Nelson Wolff said the program sounded more like a rehab program than a prevention program, but Judicial Services Director Michael Lozito said when it comes to prostitution, rehabilitation is where prevention often starts.
“Generally with individuals in prostitution, they have a high recidivism rate, or return rate,” Lozito said. “If you're able to go in and break the cycle, then you're preventing that action from happening.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff said the vote was practically ceremonial, given that a bill passed in the Texas Legislature required all counties with a population of more than 200,000 people to apply for the grant.
Wolff said such a program would have its merits, but he’s concerned that the county would be stuck funding the program after the first year’s funds run out.
“When you try to shut it down a year later because there is no more money from the state, we promise you, you'll have a line of people telling us, ‘It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread,’ and we'll have to figure out a way to fund it," Kevin Wolff said.
If the county’s application is approved, Judicial Services would have to fast-track the hiring of a probation officer to handle case management.
If the application is denied, the county would not be forced to establish a prevention program, but Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Adkisson said officials should seriously consider it.
“I don’t think we can afford to be jailing these people into eternity,” Adkisson said. “But I do think it’s a worthy thing to, under the law, make sure they don’t come back to our jail."