Corpus Christi, TX

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Corpus Christi is a city of approximately 325,000 residents, located on the southeast coast of Texas.  Most of the city lies within Nueces County, but the boundaries also extend into Aransas, Kleberg, and San Patricio Counties. The Corpus Christi Police Department has conducted many street-level and web-based stings in response to complaints from residents and businesses. Corpus Christi police and public officials have reported that the city’s prostituted women and sex buyers may be connected to other crime issues, such as drug abuse and human trafficking. To address these crimes and other related problems, the city has created educational alternatives to address some of the core issues associated with the demand and supply of prostitution.  In programs that have been implemented intermittently in Corpus Christi, women arrested for prostitution (as well as male sex buyers) have been provided the opportunity to go into programs instead of serving jail time, or coupled with reduced jail time.  The programs have involved sex and substance abuse education, and adhering to a geographic restraining (or SOAP) order restricting them from certain areas of the city, and HIV/AIDS testing.  Some arrestees have also been required to place a bumper sticker on their car saying, “Stop Prostitution.”

Through 2012, the city deliberated about offering a rehabilitation and assistance program for prostituted women modeled after an initiative in Dallas.  In Dallas, police and medical personnel would set up mobile clinics in areas with the highest prostitution rates.  Instead of jail time, county health care officials and judges intend to provide screening for diseases and to offer options to find employment, education, and/or mental health care.  By the middle of the following year, a variation on the Dallas model had been implemented in Corpus Christi.  Key differences in the latter program are that it is offered in a central location rather than being mobile, and contains a component for male sex buyers.

Beginning is July, 2013, the District Attorney’s Office, Corpus Christi Police Department and Coastal Bend Wellness Coalition collaborated on a prostitution diversion program entitled the Red Cord initiative.  This program is intended to help women and men involved in prostitution disengage from their current environments and from commercial sex, providing services including substance abuse treatment, mental and physical health evaluations and treatment, job skills programs, education programs, and temporary housing – all provided by non-profit partners. Those suspected of either buying or selling sex are taken to a building downtown, where officials from the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation and the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office immediately assess them and offer them help through the Red Cord Initiative.

Among the efforts to address prostitution and sex trafficking locally are those targeting consumer-level demand.  Police concentrate those efforts in parts of the city with the most persistent complaints, including areas near Leopard Street, Brownlee Boulevard and South Port Avenue. A recent example of a reverse sting was a street-level operation occurring in March 2018 that resulted in the arrest of six sex buyers.  Operations have been conducted at all hours of the day, using undercover female officers as decoys. For example, in June 2018, police directed a reverse sting on a Thursday afternoon in Corpus Christi’s North and West side neighborhoods. A female officer posed as a prostituted person and was solicited by men requesting sex acts in exchange for money.  Seven men were arrested and charged with prostitution, a class B misdemeanor and that can be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine. Six of the seven men arrested during that operation agreed to attend a voluntary prostitution diversion education program at their expense.  The “john school” program educates men about the negative consequences of prostitution, circumstances that may lead someone to purchase sex, and the impact they have on the individual they attempt to solicit sex in exchange for money.  If the men successfully complete the education program, their case could be dismissed by the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office.

The CCPD has released the names, ages, hometowns, and photos of arrested sex buyers to the public since 2007. Arrest records are currently available on the department’s official website, along with details describing arrested johns’ vehicle descriptions.  By 2018, the john school program had been developed and offered to arrested buyers in exchange for a reduced sentence (or dismissal of charges) and a $500 fee. The John School is provided by Coastal Bend Wellness. The money generated by the fees that men pay for the John School is used to help those involved in prostitution get access to help for mental abuse, housing, health care and other things needed to exit sexual exploitation.  In March 2018, a reverse sting was conducted and six men were taken into custody for buying sex, and were offered the john school option. In June 2018, six of the seven men arrested in a reverse sting chose the john school option.

In March, 2021, seven men were arrested in an anti-prostitution sting by the Corpus Christi Police Department’s Narcotics and Vice Investigations Division (NVID).  Officials with the CCPD said the men were arrested after soliciting an undercover CCPD officer, posing as a prostituted person, for sex acts in exchange for money. The men arrested during the operation were required to attend the mandatory prostitution diversion education program at their expense. The fees raised from this program are then used to provide resources to assist women wanting to exit from prostitution.  NVID Detectives were assisted by several law enforcement entities, as well as civilians with the Red Cord Program. The Red Cord Program, CCPD said, is a prostitution diversion program aimed to provide practical and emotional support for those involved in prostitution. The program is a collaboration between Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, social service organizations, Nueces County District Attorney Office, and Corpus Christi Police Department.

 

Key Partners

  • Corpus Christi Police Department
  • Corpus Christi Weed and Seed Program
  • Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation
  • Nueces County District Attorney’s Office
  • Red Cord Initiative

Key Sources

State Texas
Type City
Population 325780
Location
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