The persistent problem of repeat prostitution offenders has an elusive solution

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - Gloria Morrison was arrested this week for prostitution.


It's her 50th trip to the Oneida County Jail. She's faced more than 100 charges since 2000, roughly half for prostitution.

"At least locally, here, it's mostly driven by the drug trade. These women are addicts," says Lt. Steve Hauck of the Utica Police Department. "And if they only face very minor sanctions in court, they're always going to chose to do the time and get out as opposed to long-term sort of treatment, because they're driven by that addiction."

Lt. Hauck recalls encountering Morrison while on patrol one Christmas.

"I wished her a Merry Christmas and she didn't know it was Christmas," said Hauck.

A revolving door has lead Morrison from the streets, to the courts, to jail and back to the streets since 2000.  She has spent 2,456 days in the Oneida County Jail -- roughly  six and a half years.  At the current cost of $110 per day, that's about $270,000 that taxpayers have spent keeping her in jail.

"That's inexcusable," says Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.

Brindisi says there are two schools of thought in Albany regarding potential solutions to the problem of addiction-fed prostitution.

"There are some people in the state who have beliefs that it's not right to be increasing penalties; there should be more education, more reform, not necessarily increasing penalties so it's a battle that we have here all the time," says Brindisi.

If Albany were to give Insight House President and CEO Donna Vitagliano a blank check to solve the problem, she'd take it right to the elementary schools.

"You teach your child from day one," she said. "You start with sports, with music, learn the computer early on they can turn the computer on and probably work it better than most parents can.  But you don't have a program that deals with drugs and alcohol from that age group."

The problem, unchecked, rises to dangerous heights. Kelly Marshal, of Utica began prostituting herself for drugs. She's now serving a 19-year to life sentence for murder, resulting from a drug robbery in Utica.


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