WBEZ | prostitution http://www.wbez.org/tags/prostitution Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Left out of economic recovery, workers go underground http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Santana%20CROP.jpg" style="height: 377px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-top: 4px; margin-bottom: 4px;" title="‘I barely make ends meet. Why should I pay taxes?’ a Chicago ice-cream vendor asks. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Santana does not want to be part of Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy but says he has struck out everywhere else.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve tried getting a formal job at Menard&rsquo;s, Home Depot, Target, Walmart &mdash; all these big corporations, which usually do hire a lot of ethnicity people,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I have not been called back for an interview.&rdquo;</p><p>So Santana &mdash; who, like other workers in this story, spoke on condition we not publish his full name &mdash; spends most days pushing an ice-cream cart in Little Village, a Mexican-American neighborhood.</p><p>Santana does not earn much. &ldquo;On a decent day, maybe about $90,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>And he comes from a low-income family. &ldquo;I actually have to claim homelessness to get funds from the government such as a Link card,&rdquo; he said, referring to Illinois&rsquo;s food-stamp program. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been paying rent at my mom&rsquo;s since I was 16.&rdquo;</p><p>So Santana says he has good reason to skip paying taxes on his income.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all off the books,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Five years since the Great Recession, the U.S. economy has grown but a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399#charts" target="_self">key labor-market gauge</a> shows little evidence of the recovery. As of May, more than 41 percent of the working-age population lacked employment, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on civilian, noninstitutionalized individuals. The most recent figure for Chicago, from 2012, is almost 44 percent.<br /><br />Many of the jobless folks are, like Santana, finding other ways to earn money. And there is reason to believe this shadow economy is expanding.<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Down but not out</span><br /><br />It is hard to know how many jobless individuals have resorted to working off the books. Few economists will even hazard a guess.<br /><br />But Edgar Feige, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, estimates that income not reported to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is as high as $2 trillion a year &mdash; equivalent to roughly 20 percent of the nation&rsquo;s total adjusted gross income. Feige said that number is &ldquo;approaching the levels that we observed during the Great Depression.&rdquo;</p><p>He means the one in the 1930s.<br /><br />Nowadays a business may look legitimate from the street while most of its staff works off the books.</p><p>&ldquo;I get paid $8 an hour to basically just clean this restaurant,&rdquo; a 25-year-old man said as he hosed off a grill in back of a South Side jerk chicken joint. &ldquo;No one here ever gets a check or pay stub. It&rsquo;s all paid in cash.&rdquo;<br /><br />What is driving people to take these shady jobs? Many of the workers say formal employment is beyond their reach. The labor market is particularly tough for young workers, African Americans, people with a criminal record, immigrants in the country illegally and high-school dropouts.<br /><br />And it can be tough even with a college degree. &ldquo;I have a bachelor&rsquo;s in information technology and I&rsquo;d like to be a Web developer,&rdquo; said a man I&rsquo;ll call Jonathan, a 27-year-old in Flossmoor, a suburb south of Chicago.<br /><br />Jonathan says he came up with nothing in searches for an internship or apprenticeship &mdash; anything that would put food on the table while he developed his skills. So he works on cars.</p><p>&ldquo;I go to the junkyard and I pick out an engine,&rdquo; he said. In his mom&rsquo;s garage, he installs those engines in cars he finds on Craigslist. Then he sells the cars.<br /><br />And the title on those vehicles?</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t even transfer the title into my name first,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I actually just pass it straight on to the person that&rsquo;s buying because I&rsquo;ve reached my limit as far as how many cars I can sell.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jonathan admits he is paying no income tax on this work. &ldquo;The choice is, Do I pay my water bill or do I pay my taxes?&rdquo; he said.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Everyone affected</span><br /><br />If you think Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy operates only in low-income neighborhoods, you are wrong.<br /><br />&ldquo;I live on the North Side of Chicago,&rdquo; said a 45-year-old woman I&rsquo;ll call Jennifer. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a presentation designer and writer. I&rsquo;ve had no full-time employment since 2008.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jennifer does get freelance gigs in her field. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s infrequent,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />So she resorts to other paid work, much of it off-the-books. It includes dog walking, cat sitting and handing out swag at trade shows and street festivals. &ldquo;Then I figure out what things probably won&rsquo;t go noticed if I don&rsquo;t claim them,&rdquo; Jennifer said.<br /><br />She&rsquo;s not talking about hiding income from the IRS but from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. She doesn&rsquo;t want officials there to dock her unemployment checks.<br /><br />Jennifer says her options are few. &ldquo;Right now, I don&rsquo;t have electricity,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;My electricity was turned off five weeks ago. And I guess I owe ComEd $500 and I have no idea how I&rsquo;m going to get that $500.&rdquo;<br /><br />Even if people report all their income and pay taxes on it, they might still have close ties to the shadow economy. Maybe they have a nanny and do not report her pay to the IRS.</p><p>Or maybe the taxpayers shop at a big-box store. The prices might be great, but that could owe partly to shady contractors that clean the place at night. Those contractors might bring in janitors working off-the-books.<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Drawbacks</span><br /><br />&ldquo;You can think of these underground economies as actually being a buffer that helps families get through difficult times,&rdquo; said Feige, the economist, pointing out that people making money off-the-books also spend it. &ldquo;It contributes to economic growth in the official economy as well.&rdquo;<br /><br />The informal economy does have its downsides. It does not generate many tax dollars to fund the job training or social services that some workers might need. The workers may also lack benefits and protections such as unemployment compensation and a minimum wage.<br /><br />&ldquo;A young person will have fewer and fewer contacts to the outside regional economy,&rdquo; said Steven Pitts, a labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ll have a résumé that&rsquo;s undeveloped for use in that economy. So you may get a reproduction of poverty because of that.&rdquo;<br /><br />There are other risks, especially when the work is further outside the law, such as drug dealing.<br /><br />On Chicago&rsquo;s West Side, a 23-year-old who calls herself Ebony faces workplace hazards every day. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a prostitute,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I work the streets.&rdquo;<br /><br />Ebony, a Chicago Public Schools graduate, says she does not enjoy her trade but considers it her best option. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve applied for McDonald&rsquo;s, Walmart, White Castle,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Employers have all passed on her &ldquo;because I don&rsquo;t have a work history,&rdquo; she said. Or at least not a formal work history.<br /><br />Ebony says she has been earning a living since she was 16.</p><p>&ldquo;I stand and wait for guys to pick me up,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You get in a car. They ask you, &lsquo;How much is this?&rsquo; and &lsquo;How much is that?&rsquo; You give them a price. They give you the money. You either do it in the car, you rent rooms from people, or you go to a hotel.&rdquo;<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Desperate measures</span></p><p>That brings us back to Santana, the young man who pushes the ice-cream cart. Even without paying taxes, he says he is not making enough money. And he could be heading down the same road as Ebony.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve actually even considered being a sugar baby,&rdquo; Santana said, describing that as spending time with an older woman and providing her all sorts of services. &ldquo;She&rsquo;d be a cougar. I&rsquo;d be a cub. She&rsquo;d basically pay for my bills and stuff like that.&rdquo;<br /><br />To become a sugar baby &mdash; to find his sugar mama &mdash; Santana says he might have to become a stripper.</p><p>With that in mind, he says, he has been lifting weights. He has the shoulders and arms to prove it. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m never going to look this good again in my life,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy, Santana figures his body might be the best thing he&rsquo;s got.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Employment-population ratio<a name="charts"></a></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%201.PNG" style="height: 370px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%202.PNG" style="height: 390px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%203.PNG" style="height: 478px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%204.PNG" style="height: 426px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div></div></div></div></div></div><p><em><strong>SOURCE:</strong> U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. <strong>NOTES: </strong>The employment-population ratio is the proportion of the U.S. working-age population (ages 16 and over) that is employed, either full- or part-time. That population includes everyone except members of the military and institutionalized persons. A 2013 figure for the city of Chicago is not yet available. Annual figures are averages of monthly figures. <strong>REPORTER:</strong>&nbsp;</em><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399 Canada's Courts side with sex workers http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-12-23/canadas-courts-side-sex-workers-109430 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/prostitution-is-not-a-choice-2 logo.gif" alt="" /><p><p>Last week Canada&#39;s highest court struck down the country&rsquo;s anti-prostitution laws, siding with a group of sex workers who argued the ban made their work more dangerous. We&#39;ll take a look at the potential impact of the court&#39;s decision.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-canada-s-courts-side-with-sex-workers/embed" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-canada-s-courts-side-with-sex-workers.js" type="text/javascript" language="javascript"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-canada-s-courts-side-with-sex-workers" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Canada's courts side with sex workers" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 10:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-12-23/canadas-courts-side-sex-workers-109430 Illinois nixes felony prostitution http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-nixes-felony-prostitution-107445 <p><p>The Illinois General Assembly voted Thursday to end felony prostitution.</p><p>&ldquo;The existence of the felony punishment was not changing their behavior or their attitudes or their choices because oftentimes people are engaged in prostitution because they have so few choices,&rdquo; said Lynne Johnson, policy director for Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE).</p><p>Johnson said the felony punishment only served to victimize people in the sex trade even further.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s only after people are able to leave the sex trade that the existence of their felony record prevents them from getting good housing or getting a good job,&rdquo; Johnson said.</p><p>CAASE is part of End Demand, a campaign that wants to change how law enforcement deals with prostitution. Advocates say johns, pimps and traffickers should be held more accountable.</p><p>Illinois is just one of a handful of states that hits sex workers with a felony upgrade. Two misdemeanor charges can equal a felony in the state. According to CAASE, women released from Illinois state prison with sex offenses are likely to be rearrested more than any other group of offenders. The state Senate passed the bill 56-1 and the House passed it earlier in the week.</p><p>Johnson says because a solicitation offense for customers doesn&rsquo;t have a felony upgrade, the law tends to target women. Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s signature is needed for the bill to become law.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 30 May 2013 17:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-nixes-felony-prostitution-107445 Transit fare-card fog thickens http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/transit-fare-card-fog-thickens-106201 <p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-rta-no-debit-option-on-reducedfare-ventra-cards-20130320,0,3355403.story" target="_blank"><img alt="VentraChicago.com illustration" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20shot%202013-03-21%20at%201.19.11%20AM.png" style="height: 177px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="VentraChicago.com illustration" /></a><strong>TRANSIT FARE-CARD FOG.&nbsp;</strong>Adding to confusion over the incoming Ventra card for Chicago-area transit, the&nbsp;RTA says its version won&#39;t include prepaid debit account functionality for senior citizens and people with disabilities. On one hand, that means they&#39;ll be spared <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-0320-cta-ventra-hidden-fees-gfc-eps-20130319,0,2656887.graphic" target="_blank">a bewildering array of debit-card fees</a>; on the other, a disability rights group executive tells the <em>Tribune</em>, &quot;Whatever options are available to the general public&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-rta-no-debit-option-on-reducedfare-ventra-cards-20130320,0,3355403.story" target="_blank">should be available to persons with disabilities and persons over 65 who qualify for reduced-fare cards</a>.&quot;<br /><em>* Correction to something I said yesterday on WBEZ&#39;s &quot;Afternoon Shift&quot;&nbsp;</em>(at about 5:02 in <a href="http://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/timeout-chicago-goes-all/" target="_blank">this audio clip</a>): According to the <em>Trib</em>, that $2.95 &quot;Reload on Internet&quot; fee applies <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-cta-ventra-hidden-fees-0320-20130320,0,2928286.story" target="_blank">only to money added to the retail (debit) side of the card</a>; not to recharges for the card&#39;s transit-fare side.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>SCHOOL CLOSINGS ANALYSIS.&nbsp;</strong>As Mayor Emanuel&#39;s administration prepares to announce what could be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/more-50-proposed-chicago-school-closings-expected-106202" target="_blank">the largest number of schools shut down by a city in a single year</a>, keep an eye on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/March-2013/Two-Sites-You-Should-Be-Looking-At-As-CPS-Announces-Massive-School-Closure/" target="_blank">these data-driven websites</a>&nbsp;(including&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/mapping-10-years-school-closures" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s map of school closures</a>), featuring what&nbsp;<em>Chicago</em>&nbsp;magazine&#39;s Whet Moser calls &quot;vital&quot; tools for understanding the closings&#39; impact.<br />* Chicago charter-school operator UNO&#39;s boss has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18966110-761/embattled-boss-of-top-chicago-charter-school-operator-uno-has-three-relatives-on-his-payroll.html" target="_blank">3 relatives on the payroll</a>,&nbsp;<em>Sun-Times</em>&nbsp;reports.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>KIDS DOCS BACK GAY MARRIAGE.</strong> The Illinois-based American Academy of Pediatrics says <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/influential-pediatricians-group-backs-gay-marriage" target="_blank">stable relationships between parents, regardless of sexual orientation, contribute to children&#39;s health and well-being</a>.<br />* Gay-marriage opponent: &quot;To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/us/politics/young-opponents-of-gay-marriage-remain-undaunted.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">it will be challenging for us</a>.&quot;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>&#39;SURE. SEX AND THE PRIESTS, LET&#39;S BLAST IT ALL OVER THE PLACE. NEVER LET IT GO.&#39;</strong> The retired bishop of the Joliet Diocese reacts bitterly to <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-open-files-part-of-settlement-for-priest-sex-abuse-victim-20130320,0,1723064,full.story" target="_blank">release of previously secret papers detailing decades of sexual abuse</a> on his watch.<br />* Lawyer who won the revelations: &quot;<a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/iteam&amp;id=9033945" target="_blank">At least 75% of the diocese ... had a sexual predator priest</a>.&quot;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>LET PROSTITUTES WALK FREE?</strong> To ease a population crunch at Cook County Jail, several County Board members are asking prosecutors <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18992826-761/county-officials-end-felony-arrests-for-prostitution-to-reduce-jail-crowding.html" target="_blank">to treat prostitution arrests as misdemeanors</a>, not felonies.<br />* On WBEZ, Sheriff Tom Dart criticizes mental health clinic closures:&nbsp;&quot;We as a society have decided to criminalize mental illness. ... We&#39;ve shut down all the facilities to treat people. <a href="http://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/cook-county-sheriff-tom-dart" target="_blank">Where in God&#39;s name do you think they&#39;re gonna go?</a>&quot;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>YOUR TAXES AT WORK.</strong><br />*&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18993800-761/city-of-chicago-hit-with-578-million-tab-in-parking-garage-snafu.html" target="_blank">Chicago ordered to pay $57.8 million to parking company</a>&nbsp;for letting competing garage open nearby.<br />*&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-cook-county-aclu-settlement-0321-20130321,0,2402817.story" target="_blank">Cook County to pay $646,000 to ACLU</a>&nbsp;in fight over law forbidding recording of cops on the job.</span></p><hr /><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 18px;"><em><span style="color: rgb(128, 0, 0);"><strong>COMING FRIDAY: </strong>A fresh news quiz.<br />Limber up your quizceps by trying&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/news-quiz" target="_blank">these previous editions</a>.</em></span></span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>COULD MAKE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS AWKWARD.&nbsp;</strong>President Obama was caught on-mic and on-camera in Israel joking, &quot;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/03/20/obama-tells-netanyahu-its-good-to-get-away-from-congress/" target="_blank">It&#39;s good to get away from Congress</a>.&quot;<br />* Obama, Israel&#39;s prime minister <a href="http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/03/obama-netanyahu-admonish-nbcs-chuck-todd-for-asking-159848.html" target="_blank">complain NBC reporter asks too many questions</a>.<br />* Conservative vs. conservative: &quot;<a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/03/oreilly-slams-bachmann-for-trivial-criticisms-of-president-159895.html" target="_blank">O&#39;Reilly slams Bachmann</a> for &#39;trivial&#39; criticisms of President Obama&quot; (Politico).</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>&#39;THE AMERICAN NEWS CONSUMER HAS NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD.&#39;</strong> <em>Slate</em>&#39;s Matthew Yglesias says, sure, it&#39;s a rough time for news producers, but <a href="http://stateofthemedia.org/" target="_blank">the doom-and-gloom reports</a> on the state of the news biz miss the key point that &quot;<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/03/pew_s_state_of_the_media_ignore_the_doomsaying_american_journalism_has_never.html">today&rsquo;s readers have access to far more high-quality coverage than they have time to read</a>.&quot;<br />* Reporter who quit: &quot;<a href="http://allysonbird.com/2013/03/19/why-i-left-news/" target="_blank">Newspapers killed newspapers</a>.&quot;<br />* <em>Washington Post</em> nails <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/207810/washington-post-busts-jane-goodall-for-plagiarism/" target="_blank">Jane Goodall for plagiarism</a>.<br />* CNN reporter allegedly <a href="http://www.thewrap.com/media/column-post/cnn-soft-rapists-steubenville-coverage-sparks-debate-81861?page=0,0" target="_blank">&quot;outraged&quot; over Steubenville rape trial coverage criticism</a>.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>GOOGLE&#39;S NEW NOTE-TAKING SERVICE.</strong> <a href="http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/03/20/google-launches-evernote-rival-keep-for-the-web-android-4-0-and-above/" target="_blank">Google Keep</a> is aimed at services like Evernote, promising to &quot;save ideas and organize to-dos the moment they happen by creating notes, lists, photos and voice recordings right from your phone.&quot;<br />* YouTube now reaches <a href="http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/03/21/youtube-reaches-1-billion-unique-monthly-users-almost-15-of-planet-earth/" target="_blank">1 billion unique visitors a month</a> -- 15 percent of humanity.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>THIS LINK UNSUITABLE FOR ALL AGES.</strong> Tired of the traditional NCAA bracket?&nbsp;<em>Deadspin</em> offers a 64-slot &quot;<a href="http://deadspin.com/behold-the-ultimate-curse-word-bracket-457043269" target="_blank">Swear Word Bracket</a>&quot; -- because &quot;68-team brackets are stupid.&quot;<br />* Tech Crunch: &quot;<a href="http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/19/google-march-madness-bracket/" target="_blank">Google Embeds March Madness Bracket In Search, Because Screw Sports Sites</a>.&quot;&nbsp;</span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em><br /><em>* Suggestions for this blog?&nbsp;<a href="mailto:cmeyerson@wbez.org?subject=Things%20and%20stuff">Email anytime</a>.<br />* Get this blog by email, free. <a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">Sign up here</a>.</em><br /><em>* Follow us on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbez" target="_blank">@WBEZ</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/meyerson" target="_blank">@Meyerson</a>.</em></span></p></p> Thu, 21 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/transit-fare-card-fog-thickens-106201 Decriminalizing the world’s oldest profession http://www.wbez.org/decriminalizing-world%E2%80%99s-oldest-profession-105585 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/group_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79812661" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>In the living room of Renea Walker, a resident of Chicago&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood, I meet six former prostitutes who meet here on a regular basis. They tell me they&rsquo;ve been arrested for prostitution too many times to count, and they&rsquo;re even willing to laugh about it with me. That&rsquo;s despite the fact that that they&rsquo;ve faced serious problems related to their sex work, including drug addiction.</p><p>I sought them out because they&rsquo;re part of the speakers bureau of the &ldquo;End Demand Illinois&rdquo; campaign, which has tried changing how enforcement and even community members deal with prostitution. Started in 2009, End Demand asks that johns &mdash; and not so much the prostitutes &mdash; become the law&rsquo;s targets. Supporters argue people who buy sex need to be held accountable.</p><p>The women will take the message anywhere, and they&rsquo;ve had a audiences with a Jewish temple congregation, groups of at-risk girls, and others who&rsquo;ve been willing to listen to suggestions on how to help sex workers.</p><p>&ldquo;If we can influence, any older, younger, LGBTQrst,&rdquo; Walker laughed. &ldquo;If we can say something that will deter their thinking or stop them from letting someone else influence to lead them down this path, that&rsquo;s why today we&rsquo;re not ashamed.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Women released from Illinois state prison with sex offenses are likely to be rearrested. In fact, it happens with them more than any other group of offenders. End Demand is working to make johns, pimps and traffickers more accountable, but it&rsquo;s also sought to protect the interests of sex workers. One tactic to do that is to stop treating prostitution as a felony. Right now, if a sex worker is hit with two misdemeanor charges related to prostitution in Illinois, the second charge is upgraded to a felony. Illinois is just one of a handful of states that does this.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re talking about just shutting that down. If you would see the court building, these women are just revolving doors. Just revolving doors. They get out one month. Next month they&rsquo;re back in,&rdquo; said Barbara Echols, a former prostitute.</p><p>End Demand has main advocate and driver in The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. CAASE policy director Lynne Johnson said the felony upgrade should be nixed.</p><p>&ldquo;Women who have been able to leave prostitution and have a felony record are prevented from getting good jobs. From access to benefits and housing,&rdquo; Johnson said. &ldquo;It really forecloses a lot of possibilities that they may have to improve their lives. So it&rsquo;s taking a huge toll on individual people.&rdquo;</p><p>Solicitation itself does not qualify for a felony upgrade, but buying sex could be a felony under &quot;patronizing a prostitute.&quot; But Johnson has research suggesting that buyers of sex are almost never charged.</p><p>End Demand has had some success in its campaign. Chicago prostitution arrests are down and it&rsquo;s gotten three laws passed: first, minors are no longer charged with prostitution; second, lawmakers expanded the definition of sex trafficking; and lastly, prostitutes who can prove they were trafficked can get their own convictions vacated.</p><p>&ldquo;End Demand Illinois wants to take a very holistic approach to this problem,&rdquo; Johnson said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s any one right answer or any one approach that&rsquo;s going to solve it. I think it has to come from multiple directions. But I do strongly object to the notion that buying sex is a normal, acceptable activity. Because what you&rsquo;re doing is you&rsquo;re buying a human body.&rdquo;</p><p>But not everything&rsquo;s gone the way End Demand and CAASE wanted.</p><p>Last fall The Chicago Reporter investigative magazine analyzed data from the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office. The magazine <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2012/11/escorted-jail">found </a>that prostitution-related felonies are being levied almost exclusively against sex workers &mdash; not sex traffickers.</p><p>And there have been problems implementing the law meant to protect juveniles. It&rsquo;s designed to penalize the commercial sexual exploitation of children with Illinois&rsquo; human trafficking law and federal law. The Chicago Reporter, though, found only three prostitution patrons under that new law have ever been charged with a felony.</p><p>The Chicago Police Department and Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office were unavailable for this story. But Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who&rsquo;s gotten <a href="http://blog.cookcountygov.com/2011/08/16/oprah-winfrey-network-to-air-documentary-on-sheriffs-anti-prostitution-progra/">attention </a>for trying to reduce the demand for prostitution, is willing to say that there have been challenges. In particular, it&rsquo;s been hard to convict sex traffickers.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had to a lot more work than we should, frankly,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;Because we feel that there should be more of these cases made but it&rsquo;s a pretty high bar they set for that, so it&rsquo;s been tricky. Because the victims of them are so terrified that it&rsquo;s tricky sometimes to get them to come forward. Sometimes they don&rsquo;t make the greatest witnesses because of their fear.&rdquo;</p><p>Dart&rsquo;s work doesn&rsquo;t always involve the End Demand campaign, but his office did create a response team of prostitution survivors. That team connects sex workers with support services, should they choose to use them.</p><p>End Demand does have its <a href="http://reason.com/archives/2013/01/21/the-war-on-sex-workers">skeptics</a>, though, including Rachel Lovell, a researcher at Case Western University. She once worked at DePaul University in Chicago, and she co-authored a <a href="http://condor.depaul.edu/ssrc/documents/EndDemand_lLHB6462_Final.pdf">paper that criticized</a> End Demand Illinois. It argued that stiffer penalties against johns actually end up hurting female sex workers.</p><p>&ldquo;The philosophy and the overarching theme of the End Demand movement is that all women in prostitution are victims,&rdquo; Lovell said. &ldquo;Many of the sex worker activist organizations denounce that by saying some women are trafficked. Some women are choosing this out of a few limited circumstances that they have. And some women very purposely choose to do this out of other options we think would be better.&rdquo;</p><p>Lovell argues it&rsquo;s important to distinguish between the different ways one can be a sex worker. The former prostitutes who meet at Renee Walker&rsquo;s Englewood home were involved in what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;the open circuit.&rdquo; Lovell said workers in that part of the trade are more likely to face victimization. On the other hand, Lovell said, there are escorts, who take referrals.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a very complex market,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And just to say if we increase penalties for men they will just stop buying, I think it&rsquo;s just too simplistic of an argument to make.&rdquo;</p><p>But Lovell does agree with the End Demand campaign on one thing: Prostitution as a felony should be abolished.</p><p>Meanwhile, no one is benefitting from one of the new laws, namely the one that would vacate sentences for sex workers who prove they were trafficked. Attorneys say they&rsquo;re now reviewing one particular case they hope will meet the threshold.</p><p>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a>.</p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 13:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/decriminalizing-world%E2%80%99s-oldest-profession-105585 Study sheds light on men who buy sex in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/study-sheds-light-men-who-buy-sex-illinois-104858 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F74549615" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>This article contains a graphic description of sexual violence.</em></p><p>A <a href="http://g.virbcdn.com/_f2/files/22/FileItem-276524-FinalWeb_OurGreatHobby.pdf">new report</a> about Illinois men who turn to online message boards to discuss buying sex reveals how they evade law enforcement and engage one another through an anonymous, hypermasculine brotherhood.<br /><br />The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation released the study Friday. It analyzed data from the USA Sex Guide, a website in which hetereosexual men refer to themselves as &ldquo;hobbyists&rdquo; and &ldquo;mongers&rdquo; of prostitution. During a three-month period johns in Illinois &ndash;&nbsp;from urban to suburban to rural &ndash;&nbsp;created 2,600 posts about buying sex. They shared strategies, errors and offered pep talks.<br /><br />&ldquo;Whereas in the past, men who learned about sex did so primarily through their own trial and error, now johns inform one another about the successes and failures other johns have experienced,&rdquo; said Lara Janson, the study&rsquo;s author. &ldquo;To many men who buy sex, the johns&#39; (message) boards are a critical resource in helping them feel empowered.&rdquo;<br /><br />Some sample comments: &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had luck once picking up a girl, don&rsquo;t know if she was a pro or not but she was dressed in civilian cloths [sic] (mid 20&rsquo;s) standing in the middle of the street&nbsp;on touchy [sic] and McCormick on the north side. She was holding a sign that&nbsp;said she was recently a laid off seeking help. Offered to get her food at the mcdonalds on touchy [sic] and it led to some great sex for 60&hellip;.the scene was not&nbsp;of a John picking up a pro but rather just civilians helping another. Isn&rsquo;t that what&nbsp;we all do on this board?&rdquo;<br /><br />According to the report, these johns discuss inflicting violence on women and&nbsp;buying sex from girls who are potentially minors and victims of sex trafficking.<br /><br />Men on these message boards also remark how law enforcement efforts to deter prostitution on the john side are effective. Reverse stings generate discussions about whether to continue buying sex.<br /><br />&ldquo;Policies that target them or increase law enforcement presence in areas where the commercial sex operates may simply end their cruise for a evening or it may end their mongering permanently,&rdquo; Janson said.<br /><br />On the other hand, many johns said that policies that single out prostituted women and men of color who buy sex don&rsquo;t appear to deter them.<br /><br />CAASE has argued&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/local/chicago-police-shift-prostituion-approach" target="_blank">for years</a> that prostitutes should not be the target for arrests and prosecution. Advocates say this latest report underscores that message and reinforces the need to shift the culture around commercial sex.<br /><br />&ldquo;Based on this finding, we recommend that law enforcement agencies end the habitual arrest of prostituted people, collaborate with local providers to provide meaningful supportive services to prostituted people and screen them for potential trafficking in order to uncover trafficking crimes,&rdquo; said Rachel Durchslag, CAASE executive director.<br /><br />She said CAASE has yet to meet with law enforcement about the report.</p></p> Fri, 11 Jan 2013 12:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-sheds-light-men-who-buy-sex-illinois-104858 Gypsy Smith's march http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/gypsy-smiths-march-103055 <p><p>On this date 103 years ago, Chicago saw one of its strangest events. English evangelist Gypsy Smith led a march through the city&rsquo;s notorious Levee.</p><p>Rodney Smith really was a Romani &ndash; a gypsy. By 1909 he&rsquo;d become a famous and respected preacher on three continents. Now he was conducting a revival at the Armory on Wentworth at 34th Street.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-18--Gypsy%20Smith%20%28CDN%29.jpg" style="width: 268px; height: 325px; float: left;" title="Gypsy Smith (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>The Levee was Chicago&rsquo;s red-light district, centered around 22nd (Cermak) and State. Prostitution was supposed to be illegal in the city. But officials had always allowed the brothels to operate, as long as they remained clustered in one area.</p><p>A few days before, Smith had announced he would lead a march through the Levee. So on this evening, when he finished his sermon at the Armory, he quietly walked out the front door, and started heading north on Wentworth. The 3,000 people in his congregation followed.</p><p>They walked silently, earnestly. Men and women, young and old, all races, all levels of society. Every so often, Smith would turn to face the group and walk backward while preaching to them. Other joined the march along the way, until about 20,000 people were moving up Wentworth.</p><p>By the time they reached 22nd, the sidewalks were jammed with spectators from all over the city. Many stood in horse-drawn wagons, or in open cars, or on the roofs of buildings. Police estimated the crowd at over 50,000&ndash;bigger than any sporting event or election night rally. One cop shook his head, saying &ldquo;This could only happen in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Meanwhile, all the brothels had closed down. The lights were off, the curtains shut, the doors locked. Many of the prostitutes had changed to street clothes and were among the throng watching the marchers.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-18--Gypsy Smith cartoon.jpg" title="Gypsy Smith leading the way (Chicago Tribune)" /></div></div><p>In many ways, it was a more civilized time. The spectators did not heckle the marchers or throw things at them. They merely watched &ndash; respectful or cynical or amused, but always orderly.</p><p>Now that the marchers had entered the belly of the beast, they began singing hymns. Periodically they&rsquo;d pause in front of a &ldquo;resort.&rdquo; Then Smith would lead them in a short prayer before moving on.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-18--Gypsy Smith marchers.jpg" title="Gypsy Smith's marchers (Chicago Tribune)" /></div><p>The march ended, and Gypsy Smith left. According to legend, some of his followers stayed behind to sample the delights of the Levee for the first time. But the evangelist was not disappointed. &ldquo;Time will show that great good has been done,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Two years later, Mayor Carter Harrison shut down the Levee.</p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/gypsy-smiths-march-103055 Indiana Governor signs human trafficking bill http://www.wbez.org/story/human-trafficking-bill-heads-indiana-governor-95922 <p><p>A bill to toughen Indiana’s penalties for sex trafficking is now the law in Indiana.&nbsp;</p><p>Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill today, just in time for this Sunday’s Super Bowl, which officials fear could become a magnet for prostitution.&nbsp;The law gives greater latitude to prosecute those who force girls, some as young as 12, into the paid sex trade.</p><p>“Let’s hope that the law has the deterrent affect that we hope for, and that these criminals will decide to take their awful business somewhere else,” Daniels said from his office Monday morning. “But if they should try it here at least we know our prosecutor will be armed with a tough law much more certain of producing successful prosecutions and long jail sentences.”</p><p>As many as 150,000 people are expected to descend upon Indianapolis for this Sunday’s Super Bowl game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.&nbsp;Officials anticipate a substantial increase in prostitution, with out-of-town girls brought in to meet the demand.</p><p>Abby Kuzma, head of the Consumer Protection Division for the Indiana Attorney General’s office, said it's appropriate for the state to step in. “We need to be protecting our children,” she said.</p><p>Kumza spearheaded the office’s push in the Indiana legislature for passage of the bill. She said victims are often abused. Volunteers, including cab drivers, have been trained what to look for in those visiting the city.</p><p>“We will be working on the ground and through the Internet. We will have volunteers working very hard to try to identify victims and rescue them,” Kuzman told WBEZ in an interview earlier this month.</p><p>The law strengthens current state regulations in several ways:</p><ul><li style="margin-left: 40px;">&nbsp; &nbsp; For Individuals who are arrested for human trafficking those under 16 years of age, prosecutors will no longer have to prove force or threat of force against the victim</li><li style="margin-left: 40px;">&nbsp; &nbsp; The law amends who can be prosecuted. Indiana’s current statute limits prosecution to parents or guardians who sell their children. The law is expanded to include any individual who sells children.</li><li style="margin-left: 40px;">&nbsp; &nbsp; Sexual conduct such as fondling, arousing or other activity that is otherwise not technically prostitution, will be subject to prosecution.</li><li style="margin-left: 40px;">&nbsp; &nbsp; The bill makes recruiting, transporting or harboring anyone younger than 16 for prostitution a Class A felony punishable by a prison lasting between 20 and 50 years.</li></ul><p><br> The Indiana House voted 93-0 in favor of the bill late last week. It cleared the state senate in a 48-0 vote, just days after the new legislative session began in early January.</p><p>Final action in the House was held up by several weeks while Democrats boycotted the House. They were protesting contentious right-to-work legislation proposed by House Republicans.</p><p>Daniels may also sign the right-to-work legislation this week once the Indiana Senate votes a final time on the measure on Wednesday. Daniels is hoping to ward off any potential picketing by pro-union members at Sunday’ Super Bowl.</p><p>The National Football League’s Players Association is contemplating some sort of demonstration leading up to the game. The NFLPA is on record opposing the right-to-work law in Indiana.</p></p> Mon, 30 Jan 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/human-trafficking-bill-heads-indiana-governor-95922 Indiana trying to combat sex trafficking for Super Bowl http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-trying-combat-sex-trafficking-super-bowl-94348 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/AP080602022396.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Super Bowl XLVI is expected to bring thousands of people and millions of dollars to downtown Indianapolis in February. And it’s not just for the National Football League’s championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 5.</p><p>The NFL will put on a week’s worth of events leading up to the big game, including autograph sessions with football stars, games, displays and entertainment.</p><p>But some are also likely to come to Indy take advantage of a short-lived, but thriving, market for prostitution.</p><p>Large conventions or major sporting events such as the Super Bowl often turn into magnets for seedy sideshows and state officials fear this one will be no different.</p><p>“The people of Indiana are very proud I believe of the fact that Indianapolis will be hosting this year’s Super Bowl but we also have to be realistic,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Wednesday. “There will also be some of the problems associated with these types of international sporting events.”</p><p>Zoeller says many young girls will be transported to Indy for the big game to specifically accommodate demand for such services.&nbsp;That’s been the experience, he says, in states that have hosted past Super Bowls and other large sporting events, where organized groups of criminals promote underage prostitution to out-of-town visitors.</p><p>Zoeller said the criminals lure impoverished young women and children with promises of jobs in the United States, only to force them into sex work and other labor.</p><p>To deal with this, Zoeller wants Indiana lawmakers to pass a comprehensive human trafficking bill shortly after the General Assembly comes together in early January.</p><p>“I’m optimistic the Indiana General Assembly can come together in a bi-partisan fashion to pass the human trafficking bill into law so that it’ll be on the books before February when we welcome people from around the world to Indianapolis,” Zoeller said.</p><p>Just last week, Indiana’s Criminal Code Evaluation Commission voted 11-1 to recommend closing loopholes in current trafficking laws.</p><p>The preliminary bill would make it easier to punish traffickers harshly, by reclassifying trafficking as a Class A felony, the highest category under Indiana criminal law. Under the proposal, a person convicted of selling a child for purposes of prostitution or sexual conduct would serve 20 to 50 years in prison.</p><p>Indiana’s trafficking laws currently apply to only parents or guardians, but the bill would change that. It would also redefine the practice so that prosecutors would not have to prove that force was part of the crime in order to obtain a conviction.</p><p>Zoeller’s support of the bill is part of a national effort called “Pillars of Hope,” which is led by the state of Washington’s Attorney General Rob McKenna. That initiative has four goals: holding traffickers accountable; getting communities to care for victims; raising public awareness; and reducing demand.</p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-trying-combat-sex-trafficking-super-bowl-94348 Worldview 9.2.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-9211 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//episode/images/2011-september/2011-09-01/front-page.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Every year, thousands of young people from sub-Saharan Africa embark on a perilous journey to Europe, in hopes of making a better life. Many wind up jobless or in refugee camps. In the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/index.shtml" target="_blank">BBC World Service</a> documentary <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/documentaries/2009/09/090921_desperate_dreams_part_1.shtml" target="_blank"><em>Desperate Dreams</em></a>, Jenny Cuffe finds out what happens to one migrant who set off across the Sahara for Spain -- and another who worked as a prostitute in Libya.</p></p> Fri, 02 Sep 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-9211