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With a warrant out for her arrest, Regina turned herself in and was ordered to go through a court-mandated prostitution diversion program at the Van Nuys-based Mary Magdalene Project, Inc. The multi-faceted strategy includes not just assertive enforcement and prosecution against pimps but diversion programs for victims convicted or prostitution and for their Johns or customers who are first-time offenders.
The disparity in the number of arrests between these groups is something Villegas is determined to change. Adult victims convicted for prostitution will have the opportunity to enroll in an session Mary Magdalene diversion program that aims to give them practical tools to turn their life around. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced earlier this month another diversion program for minors arrested for prostitution that will be rolled out in the Valley and South L.
Since July , the city has conducted 34 such programs in which 1, men have attended. This program would be offered in the Valley for the first time, Feuer said.
Participants who successfully complete these two kinds of diversion programs can have these offenses expunged from their record, he added. Police will also now bring case workers along on their task-force operations so that victims of prostitution will have immediate access to social service support, Villegas said. With the help of Councilwoman Nury Martinez, police are hoping to receive funds to pay for two police cars dedicated solely to prostitution enforcement, he added.
She recently saw girls as young as 13 and 15 years old on the Sepulveda Boulevard corridor, she said, waiting for customers. Another Valley corridor with the same reputation — which will also be targeted with these new programs — is off of Lankershim Boulevard and San Fernando Road in Sun Valley, she said.