City Council holds special meeting to address prostitution in Over-the-Rhine

CINCINNATI – If you get arrested with a prostitute in Cincinnati, you might have to explain that to your spouse.

Two women on city council, Amy Murray and Yvette Simpson, have proposed notifying spouses as one way to crack down on prostitution.

Council is also considering:

> Posting the names of convicted johns in local newspapers. Murray says some cities refer to that tactic as "shaming."

> Notifying a spouse of a positive venereal disease test following a prostitution arrest.

> Establishing a  "john school" program as a condition of a suspended sentence.

> Raising fines in certain areas where prostitutes are often found.

Murray said another issue to address is the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime. Police said a Jan. 9 homicide involved prostitution, underscoring a need for action.

“A lot of these people are minors. A lot of them are doing it against their will," she said.

City council will decide  Wednesday if it's worthwhile to invest resources into researching new ways to deal with the problem.

Police say traditional methods to combat prostitution have not worked along the McMicken corridor, so they're changing their approach.

Barricades are being set up to try to keep johns from cruising the streets. The first barriers went up Wednesday along McMicken Avenue and two more are scheduled.

The barricades will remain for three months, Simpson said.

Vanessa Sparks, who lives on West McMicken, complained at a special law and public safety committee meeting Monday that McMicken residents were not warned about the barricades.

"I feel like I'm being held hostage," Sparks said.

Simpson said urgent enforcement was needed because it's an "extreme situation."

"Sex trafficking is devastating to both the women affected as well as communities experiencing increased prostitution and crime as a result," said Simpson.

"We must review current practices and continue to explore new avenues to curb these crimes, help women and improve our neighborhoods."

RELATED: Hamilton mother describes journey into heroin addiction, prostitution, jail
MORE: City attempts to cut down on prostitution with road blocks

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