FOX13 Investigates: Stopping the revolving door lifestyle of prostitution

Eight women were arrested Wednesday afternoon during a three-hour sting operation by the Memphis Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit.

The women were each charged with prostitution, for selling sex to undercover officers for as little as 15 dollars. They were arrested in South Memphis near McLemore Avenue between 1:00 and 4:00 Wednesday afternoon.

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FOX13 is not identifying the suspected prostitutes. Local advocacy groups argue women like the ones arrested this week were trapped in a lifestyle as children they weren’t able to escape as adults.

“They did not have a chance to learn the skills to take care of themselves on their own,” Sandra Ferrell, founder of the Lisieux Community in Memphis, said.

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The Lisieux Community is an organization in Memphis that works with the District Attorney’s Office and RestoreCorps to help women rehabilitate and establish lives away from prostitution and drugs.

“If they go right back out there, they're going to resort to the same thing because they don't know how to take care of themselves,” Ferrell said.

FOX13’s Kristin Leigh uncovered a revolving door in court records Friday. Several of the women arrested in Wednesday’s sting are known to police, with multiple cases in the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center.

One woman who was arrested Wednesday has an open case in Shelby County. She was also arrested in December.

According to court records, the 53-year-old woman flagged down an undercover officer on Dec. 14. After the detective asked if she was working, she offered to have sex with him for $25.

Her record dates back more than 10 years. In 2005, police found her in a “known prostitution area” where they saw her “flagging down cars,” according to court records.

The Lisieux Community houses up to five women at a home in Memphis. FOX13 agreed not to disclose its location, to protect women currently living in the home. The organization was started in 2014.

Women are invited to stay for up to two years. During they time, they learn basic life skills such as grocery shopping, proper hygiene and health, and job skills.

“We can't fix the problem women have, but we can do little things every day to help them be able to become empowered to take care of their own problems,” Ferrell said.

Organizations like the Lisieux Community often look for volunteers and donations.

Here are links to organizations, if you’re interested in learning more: