New Central Texas Program Aims to Reduce Prostitution

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelDecember 21, 2016 10:59 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A central Texas county is hoping a new program will help reduce the prevalence of prostitution. People arrested for soliciting sex from prostitutes for the first time could avoid jail if they opt to take a course the Travis County Commissioners authorized yesterday.

The eight-hour, $250 course would educate those who solicited sex from prostitutes about issues like human trafficking, the impact of prostitution on communities, and the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Assistant County Attorney Mack Martinez says they need to take a multi-pronged approach because the status quo is not reducing prostitution.

“I have seen no real impact on this problem in our community,” Martinez says. “We have chased it from one neighborhood to another neighborhood to another neighborhood, but it continues to exist and it continues to grow.”

Only one Travis County Commissioner voted against the program, saying he doubted it would do much to reduce prostitution.

The first classes are scheduled to begin in the next fiscal year.

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the biggest numeric population growth of any state this year.

According to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas population grew by 433,000 people – bringing the state’s total population to about 27.8 million – between July of 2015 to July of this year.

Rice University demographer Steve Murdock says rapid population growth comes with both positive and negative effects.

“You’re seeing increases in business activity – with that, you’re seeing increases in salaries and wages,” Murdock says. “The other side of that is you’re seeing increased. You see all kinds of public services that are being taxed by this very rapid growth.” 

When it comes to the actual rate of population growth – Texas was number 10 in the nation at about 1.6 percent.The fastest growing state in the country was Utah, with a population increase of more than 2 percent.

The city of Houston has been locking down big event after big event – it got the nod to host the 2020 World Petroleum Congress last week. But Houston Public Media’s Eddie Robinson reports that’s not all the city has coming up:

“And in addition to the Super Bowl next year, Houston has just scored another big event,” he says. “The Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association football selected 14 stadiums in 13 cities to host the 2017 Gold Cup soccer tournament that’s held every two years and two soccer matches have been scheduled at Houston’s BBVA Compass stadium on July 11.”