Bil Browning

What do you think?

Filed By Bil Browning | September 13, 2007 2:23 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: court cases, indianapolis, justice, police, prostitution

I go this e-mail from my neighborhood association this morning and I'm simply amazed at it. Granted, prostitution is a problem in my neighborhood; I've had to run off hookers from picking up johns in front of my house. But what do you think? Is this going too far? I'm actually uncomfortable with this e-mail, but I don't know the history behind the case.


Irvington residents are being asked to attend the court hearing for ABC XYZ who has been arrested over 20 times for prostitution and other crimes. Your attendance at this hearing will help insure that the court understands that these crimes do have victims and that these activities harm your neighborhood. There is a real concern that Ms. XYZ could be back at work along East Washington Street before you get home from work Thursday evening.

The hearing is Thursday, September 13th at 1:00pm... We hope to see you there.

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I'm interested in the fact that no one is interested in talking with Ms. XYZ. Granted, I don't have much experience with situations like these out where I live, but something tells me that throwing more prostitutes in prison won't help them find other work, if that's what they want, or find/create an appropriate place to solicit, if that's what works for them. It just seems like "the neighborhood" versus "Ms. XYZ" isn't the battle that's going to help anyone, since she might, for all anyone knows, be the victim of a circumstance that brought her there.

Not that she absolutely must be a victim. I don't know, and I doubt the emailer does either.

I don’t support breaking the law if you are not prepared to accept the consequences for your actions. The answer to prostitutes gathering in your neighborhood is for people to get restraining orders against the hookers.

If people don’t like the law, Change It.
If people feel prostitutes can’t get better jobs then form an organization to help rehabilitate the prostitutes.

There is Grant Money There.

Take care,

I don’t support breaking the law if you are not prepared to accept the consequences for your actions.

This isn’t some fucking act of civil disobedience, it’s a woman’s life.

“This isn’t some f-ing act of civil disobedience, it’s a woman’s life.”
(Sorry I don’t do profanity.)

I completely understand that but would you say the same thing if that same woman was selling crack next door or stealing cars and parting them out?

If you are going to do the crime then expect to do the time.
I live in poverty and you don’t see me on the corner selling myself.

Please try to understand I am compassionate help the woman find a job for peat’s sake.

Take care


I can see both sides of this argument. It seems mean-spirited to have the entire neighborhood show up at this woman's court hearing. After all, do they do this for every criminal from the area?

But at the same time, I'm sick and tired of the prostitutes working blatantly in front of my house. Just a week ago one got picked up not three feet from me as I was going out to run her off! Going into our alley at night is a treat and a half, let me tell you. And several of our neighbors are upset that you have to hurry in your garage and shut the door before they start hollering at you or you have to deal with a herd of strung-out prosties...

“I can see both sides of this argument. It seems mean-spirited to have the entire neighborhood show up at this woman's court hearing. After all, do they do this for every criminal from the area?”

This has been done for gang members where there are graffiti problems and such. The next logical step is for the neighbors to form an association and petition the court for a restraining order for all the prostitutes that work that neighborhood. Some may think it is hard hearted until one of their children finds a used syringe condom on the ground. There is a lot more at stake here then someone’s illegal livelihood.

Here is a suggestion;
This works for other situations very well.
Get a video camera and file the prostitutes, there is no expectation of privacy in public and knowing they are being taped will be a deterrent to them working that aria. Post the videos on YouTube, most of all tell the prostitutes you are posting the videos to the Internet. Maybe that will take care of the problem without having any law enforcement involvement.

Take care,


Yeah, we have the used condoms in the alley. I walk the dog thru the alley every morning and every night and it's nasty to have to pull him away from spent jizz all the time. :(

But at the same time, is prostitution that bad of a crime? We're not talking about crack dealers or murders who have been let out of jail 20 times here. Why does the entire neighborhood need to show up for this one woman? There are tons of hookers in this neighborhood. What makes her so special?

As the "modified" libertarian that I have identified myself to be in previous comments, generally I think that prostitution ought to be legal --- however, the issue is complex, because some girls/women are forced into prostitution against their will, and some females resort to prostitution because they believe that it is their only way to survive economically. The same can be said for other undesirable activities, both legal and illegal, such as selling drugs --- some are forced into it, and some do it because they think they have no other choice. So these kinks do need to be addressed somehow.

Also, if *any* activity is disrupting a neighborhood, that activity deserves to be restricted or eliminated. Even a ten-year-old running out into the street trying to sell cups of lemonade needs to be brought under control.

If this woman set up a website and advertised herself on it, would anyone of us object to that? (Yes, this would still be illegal in most areas of the U.S. --- but in some counties of Nevada, and in countries such as Brazil, prostitution is legal. Although prostitution is illegal throughout Indiana, it is also true that casino gambling was once illegal --- and this situation changed when the statehouse allowed, and certain counties voted in, riverboat casino operations.)

The truth is that many gay men make themselves available in this manner, sometimes for money and sometimes for free, and no one seems to be arranging a small army to prosecute them. Is there a male/female double standard operating here? Or are we again "protecting the sanctity of marriage": Is someone so naive as to think that female hookers tempt married men, but gay hustlers don't?

Even though I sympathize with your troubles with hookers operating the way they do in your neighborhood, Bil ... Yes, this email troubles me also. As others have pointed out, the hookers may be in need of social work more than prosecution --- and there is something alarmingly hateful, something vigilante, about stirring up the countryside and encouraging folks to bring their torches and pitchforks ... er, encouraging folks to pressure the judge into locking these women up and throwing away the key.

Hi Bill,

You said......

“But at the same time, is prostitution that bad of a crime? We're not talking about crack dealers or murders who have been let out of jail 20 times here. Why does the entire neighborhood need to show up for this one woman? There are tons of hookers in this neighborhood. What makes her so special?”

You make an example of her to start with; she is contributing to the used condoms and the smell of “jizz” all over the place. (sorry that is the first thing I notice is the nasty smell) Try the video idea record all of them and let them know you are doing it. Show at everyone of their trials make them want to go elsewhere. It’s your neighborhood you live there they don’t.

I use to live in a neighborhood of SanDiego called Encanto it is on the edge of a high crime neighborhood called Logan Heights. We had some gang and prostitution problems in the neighborhood. The neighbors got together and had the problem people evicted from the neighborhood for being a nuisance. it took one trip by a neighbor to the county records office to find out who owned the houses and we all 18 of us called the landlords and had them thrown out. One of the two landlords was a quick study and paid more attention to who he rented to. the other a lawyer we had to teach him the same lesion twice before he got the message. We kept Encanto gang and prostitute free for 9 years after that I moved away and don’t know what has happened. I can say you don’t hear bout Encanto in the news much so there must still be some neighborhood activism going on there.

Everyone has the right to live in a clean quiet crime free neighborhood.

Take care,

Hi A.J.
I tend to be of the modified liberation ilk myself.
If gay men were parading up and down the street in front of my house I would be the first to call the police and report them after I took plenty of video of their activities. To me it matters not what their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or economic status is. I don’t want to see it I don’t want to leave on my walk to work and see used condoms all over the sidewalk or have to smell the stale reminder of what happened the day before. This is just plane, un-acceptable. You would not defecate on the sidewalk would you?

Neither would I.
Lets hope prostitution becomes legal and is regulated to protect both parties. Then the activity can go indoors where it belongs.

Take care,


With all due respect, you don't have the full picture here. This woman has been arrested 20 TIMES before for similar behavior. In Marion County, if you are charged with prostitution or other crimes are so-called "victimless," you have the option of community court. This allows you to attend victim impact panels (to see what effect your activity has on the neighborhood). If you have a substance abuse problem, you can get treatment. If you need job assistance, you can get that. If you complete this program, your conviction will be taken off your record.

If community court doesn't work, you are convicted of prostitution. Then, you are given probation, treatment if it is indicated, resources to find employment, education, ect. However, as you no doubt aware, in order to overcome an addiciton (because as much as we might like to believe the myth of "Pretty Woman", 99.9% of these woman are selling themselves for drugs), you need to want to change your behavior.

In the state of Indiana, you need two convictions for prostitution before the crime can be enhanced to a felony. This means you have had two chances (not including the community court option you might have had) to clean your act up.

The arrest record of this woman indicates she is not interested in helping herself, and has no regard for the effect this behavior has on the community. We can feel bad for this woman. We should feel bad for this woman. But in this county, this woman has had tools at her disposal to change her behavior. That she has choosen not to take advantage of those tools is sad, but not our fault.

We can either continue to placate this woman, sending her right back out in our neighborhoods to jizz up the alley, leave the remnants of her drug use around for anyone to find, attract other lowlifes (including drug dealers looking to make money off of her habit) or we can put this woman in jail until she is finally ready to change her lifestyle. Why should we feel unsafe in our home because of the behavior of this woman?

No problem, Chuck. I'm glad to have the extra info. As I said in the post, I don't know anything about the case other than this e-mail.

Thanks for posting the information on how the system works in Indianapolis. I agree that I want the prostitutes gone as much as the next neighbor, I'm just a little uneasy about a large group showing up to point at the harlot and condemn her. It's a little too "cast the first stone" to me.

Maybe Sue is on to something with her video taping idea. It's non-invasive, doesn't hurt anyone and could be a good way of driving them out of our neighborhood. Sadly though, that just means they'll move into another neighborhood.

Maybe we should start the conversation about the world's oldest profession. How can we end it? Should we? In the grand scheme of things, finding a used condom in the alley is about as bad as finding fresh dog poop. Annoying and gross but not a danger to my life, if you see what I mean. And who are we to save these women from themselves? As you say, lots of them are drug users and that's a completely different problem. Maybe they don't want to be saved.

Prostitution and the domination of women has been a problem since time began - without anyone finding a solution. So while this might feel good to get this woman locked up behind bars for having sex, it's not going to solve the larger problem in the least. 20 years from now, Indianapolis will still have whores.

And correct me if I'm wrong, Chuck, but I think our problem is with female prostitutes working the streets around Washington Street specifically. I've never seen a male prostitute working the area.

or we can put this woman in jail until she is finally ready to change her lifestyle.

Because that's what prison does, people stay in there and they learn the error of their ways and they don't commit crimes again. That's why the recidivism rate is around 0%.


I don't think anyone is in favor of these women littering or annoying people or crowding traffic (how do they solicit in front of your house, Bil? I always have to pass by your street like 5 times to find it, it's so hidden back there), but it just seems like locking them away isn't the solution, isn't really a solution to this problem at all.

Especially if the root cause of the problem is drug addiction (I don't know about your 99.9% number... where's that from?), since prison is the type of environment that pushes people to addiction, not away from it.

I don't have a solution, but it seems that no one else on this thread has one that actually solves the problem of solicitation at inappropriate times/places instead of moving it to other inappropriate times/places.

Since this meeting has already taken place - did anyone actually talk with her? Does anyone know why she's out there? Does anyone care?

The truth is that many gay men make themselves available in this manner, sometimes for money and sometimes for free, ...

Sue: What I meant by "in this manner" was via websites --- and I agree with you 100% that neither males nor females should be allowed to cause neighborhood problems by streetwalking or park cruising.

Now, about the videotaping idea: I don't have a problem with it when the activity being recorded is both illegal and undesirable, as in this case ... but I do have a problem if the intent is to intimidate the person being photo'd out of doing something they have a perfect right to do, such as (1) a woman entering a planned parenthood or abortion clinic, or (2) someone entering a legally-operating adult bookstore or theatre, or maybe even a bathhouse.

To this aspect, a recent story:

There is an adult bookstore in one of our favorite Indiana towns, Crothersville, near Exit 41 on I-65. Earlier this summer, I was driving toward Louisville and I remembered that I meant to pick up some needed info on an upcoming GLBT event here in Indy. So I thought I would stop at the adult bookstore at Exit 41 to see if they carried "The Word", the Indy gay newspaper. Well, it turned out they didn't ... but as I entered and exited the store, I also got photographed and somewhat heckled by some lovely Crothersville citizens, who yelled at me rather angrily that my picture was going on the Internet. I responded back, as calmly as I could manage, that it was already all over the Internet that I'm gay, so having it posted that I once went into an adult bookstore is not going to shock very many people. One man responded he's not there to hassle me about being gay, they are trying to shut down the bookstore.

At that point I considered asking them if they believed in the First Amendment, and whether they thought the U.S. Constitution, including freedom of the press, applied even to people living in Crothersville ... but I decided the argument was almost certainly a waste of my time, and would only get me labeled as one of those "ACLU liberals."

Now, let's see ... what was it I almost said above, near the end of my first comment, about vigilante attitudes and the folks in the countryside with their torches and pitchforks?

Oh, no -- where do I start?

Bil, first of all, I'm curious why you feel the need to discourage hookers from picking up tricks in front of your house -- I would suggest instead asking them if they want tea or a snack or some condoms, for a start...

This email from the neighborhood association is both horrifying and typical. Nationwide, such groups of property owners and business people plan out ways to cleanse their neighborhoods of "undesirables," which usually means sex workers, homeless people, drug dealers, transwomen, people of color and anyone else who might get in the way of gentrification (usually including people who have existed in the neighborhood way before many gentrifiers). That's right -- property values always take precedence over people's lives, and that's the ultimate tragedy of gentrification.

As for the hearing, I would suggest going there to encourage that all charges be dropped (and to introduce yourself to Ms XYZ -- you may be seeing her around), and to encourage those in the neighborhood association to think of ways to actually engage people in the neighborhood across lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. (like maybe needle exchange, condom distribution, free meals, etc.) rather than building divides that criminalize the most vulnerable people and make no one safer.

I discourage them because the same guys that swing by picking up hookers have started hollering and trying to pick up my 13 year old daughter any time she goes out on the front porch. She's literally had these men stop the car and try to come up and talk to her. It's scary as a 13 year old - and as a parent.

I discourage them because most of them are higher than a kite and you can tell - and not marijuana either - the hard stuff that leaves you barely able to stand.

I discourage them because I'm tired of plants being stolen off of my front porch, my car being stolen, neighborhood cars being vandalized, etc. Since the hookers have moved in our crime rate has skyrocketed.

I discourage them because I don't want used condoms and syringes in my front yard, but I would like to keep the flowers they keep trampling. (Although now that we stopped watering them they're dying anyways. But who wants to weed the flower patch full of assorted paraphernalia?)

I discourage them because I don't want to have to hurry to pull into my garage without being accosted by 40 year old crack whores desperate for their next fix begging for money or offering blow jobs for $20. Especially when I'm on the phone with someone that I consider important! Or when I'd like to have folks over to my house - if they can pass thru the horde of hookers to get here, they usually don't want to come back. I rather like my home and it pisses me off that most of my friends won't come here anymore because of the hookers and the crime they bring.

Alex - You've never seen the hookers? Well, I guess you've always been here in the mornings - and these ladies aren't early risers. Stick around till about late afternoon some time. By dusk there will be two or three guaranteed. You can sit on the porch like we did and talk to them on the sidewalk or the corner of our street and Michigan.

I think Bill has the right idea in preserving the quality of life in his neighborhood. It’s easy for someone who has not had to face this to defend people committing some victimless crime. The fact is Bill demonstrates that Prostitution is Not a Victimless Crime. Living in a neighborhood used by prostitutes the homeowners and renters quickly are held hostage by the hookers johns and drug dealers. The people who pay to live there and have pride in their neighborhood are forced to modify their behavior in favor people conducting illegal activity.

Take care,

Good luck Bill give the video idea a try.


In reading Bil's concerns about his 13-year-old daughter and (earlier) the domination of women as pieces of the story about policing and "safety" being told here, I immediately think of the work of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. Over the past several years, they have done amazing work asking the question, "What will it really take to end violence against women of color?" (understanding that if we end violence against women of color, we will end violence against all women). One of their most striking points has been that policing, and the prison-industrial complex to which policing leads, have not ended and will not end violence against women or anyone else. Rather, these are themselves violent systems that disproportionately harm people of color, poor people, and other oppressed communities -- notably including sex workers and addicts.

To the extent that the concern here is ending violence, creating neighborhoods and a world in which * everyone * is free from violence -- freed from violence to move in public space, to enjoy the flowers, to enjoy good and stable housing, and more -- I'd like to encourage coming back to that root question (with many props to INCITE!): What will it take to end violence?

I don't think any of us individually has the answer to that question, but it can be beautiful and hopeful when we start brainstorming about it across our differences, in our different communities -- everywhere from neighborhoods to blogs ...

And while we all struggle together to find answers to that question, I feel confident in saying in the meantime that supporting the routing of sex workers and other "undesirables" into prisons is not it.

I agree violence is not the real answer violence should be reserved for self defense or structured play amongst consenting adults. Imprisoning people is not always a proper solution and should be reserved for those who cannot function in society without harming men, women, children, or animals.

You are also very right in thinking any one of us have an answer to the problem of people engaging in illegal behaviors. If it would get the prostitutes off he streets and get them out from enslavement by their pimps and add a measure of safety for all involved I would be in favor of legalization. It does work in those counties in Nevada where prostitution is legal.

Sooner or later we as a society are going to have to separate our various religious beliefs from the running of a society. What I mean by this is there should be no law that enforces a religious doctrine.
To carry this to it’s logical conclusion would mean prostitution and other crimes that only effect the parties involved would be allowed and the need for a marriage license would be abolished. Think about this for a moment A License is a document that grants permission to do something that is otherwise illegal. A license is a document that authorizes the holder to partake in the privilege that document authorizes. I know this bleeds into another topic here however; I think it is important to realize from a legal standpoint ANYTHING that requires is not only illegal without one but that activity is not a right in any way shape or form as long as a government can require it to be license. For Marriage this is Unacceptable but for driving and prostitution it is a necessity.

Take care


If Y’all want Marriage equality overturn the licensing requirement.

Sorry for getting carried away that happens after three large cups of strong coffee. (Black)