Midtown residents ask state for harsher prostitution laws

by: Carl Willis Updated:

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Rampant prostitution in Midtown Atlanta has residents asking state lawmakers to get involved.

The Midtown Ponce Security Alliance announced that they will take the issue from the city level law enforcement to the Georgia State Capitol.

They are asking for sponsors to back a new law that would zero in on prostitution within 500 feet of residences.

"Really it's a last ditch effort to get rid of this problem," said Midtown homeowner Michael Orloff.

Channel 2's Carl Willis spoke with homeowners on Myrtle Street near 3rd Street.

"We find condoms in the alley back here and a lot of the prostitutes have been caught with weapons," said Orloff.

"It's the other characters that come into the neighborhood that I'm concerned about," said neighbor Julia Laber.

Many residents said they were fed up with violent behavior and drug activity that they said prostitution brings to the area.

"I've had a rock thrown at my neck," said Orloff. "I had a friend who had his tires slashed because he tried to get rid of the prostitutes."

Homeowners said the city's anti-cruising zones and Stay Out of Area--Prostitution or (SOAP) ordinance that would banish violators from certain areas are not working.

City Councilman Kwanza Hall agrees.

"It really doesn't feel good for our citizens who live in and around this stuff every night," said Hall. "I think we truly need to do something. So, I'm willing to work with our colleagues at the state."

Residents have dubbed the proposed law "aggravated prostitution."

They want prostitution to be enhanced from a misdemeanor to a felony if the crime is committed near residences.

That would mean the possibility of prostitutes getting hit with sentences of up to five years.

However, Hall told Willis that a change would need to be about more than locking people up.
 
We cannot arrest our way out of crimes because that's not the only deterrent, he said. "We have to come up with multiple angles to address this."

"I think it goes along with not having sex offenders near schools," said Orloff.