After much insistence from a Mickleton resident who was sick and tired of seeing prostitutes parading in front of his daughter’s Camden day care, state Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D., Camden) has introduced a bill that would increase penalties for prostitution near and around schools and day care facilities.
The bill, if passed, would also set up a “Prostitution Offender Education Program,” geared at teaching the risks of prostitution and its correlation to human trafficking. The program would be paid for from the fines paid by those convicted of prostitution while on or near school or day care properties.
Since my story ran in October on an increase in the number of prostitutes roaming Broadway in Camden, Wilfredo Rojas has been nagging legislators to pass a law to help curb the number of women working the streets in front of and around Mi Casita Day Care, where his 4-year-old daughter is enrolled.
Fuentes introduced the bill last week.
Brenda Antinore, who with her husband runs a ministry in Camden that serves prostitutes, said women already know the risks of prostitution.
“The greatest need is immediate detox and shelter,” Antinore said. “It’s just not OK that we don’t have the sheltering.”
Since drug users are not allowed at shelters for homeless or battered women, prostitutes — many of whom are drug addicts — have nowhere to go.
Antinore and her husband, Bill, have been working to purchase a house on South Broadway to use as a day shelter for prostitutes and also offer counseling and other social services.
The couple, who run a ministry called She Has a Name, were supposed to have the three-story home up and running by the start of the year but the discovery and removal of a large oil tank found beneath the property slowed the process, Antinore said Monday.
Under the proposed bill, a person who is charged with a prostitution offense “while on any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of such school property or a school bus, or while on any school bus, or property used as a registered family day care provider or as a licensed child care provider would be assessed a penalty of $250 for the first offense; $500 for the second offense; $1,000 for the third offense; and $2,000 for the fourth or subsequent offense. This money would be forwarded to the Department of the Treasury to be deposited in the Prostitution Offender Education Program Fund, created by this bill.”