ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Drugs and prostitution often go hand in hand.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Albany. Every night of the week, women walk the streets looking for men who are looking for women.
The majority of the hookers need money for drugs. For as little as $20, they're willing to have sex in the streets.
It's Wednesday night on the streets of Albany, and Sheriff's deputies are targeting women who peddle sex.
For the undercover deputy cruising the east side of town, sex is easy to find.
"She's in the car." The blue lights in the rear view mirror, put an end to the night's work.
"Grab the dash? Grab the dash. Step out of the car for me. What in the world?"
She feigns surprise over a trip to a familiar place.
"What am I going to jail for?"
"Prostitution. Prostitution, baby," says the cop.
Within minutes another woman, walking the streets, slips into the front seat of the undercover deputy's car.
As they ride along, she nervously chats. "I don't like to trick in cars or alleyways. You know what I'm saying? I mean I just got out of jail. I ain't trying to go back."
All the while, suspecting that's just where she's head. "I'm worried about you being the police and taking me to jail."
She was right.
What'd you just get out of jail for?
Sex in the streets isn't the only thing these women have in common. They both had crack pipes.
A woman we'll call Ann, says she started prostituting at 17, for crack cocaine. "I was just a crack head, you know. Just a crack whore."
For 17 years, Ann sold herself for drug money. "How much money would you get for sex? 'It would be according to how desperate I was. I am ashamed to admit I've had sex for five dollars.'"
And five dollars is just enough to get a tiny piece of crack cocaine. "How much crack did you smoke? Was it everyday? 'It was everyday.' How many times a day? 'As much as I could get.' Constant? 'Constant.'"
A constant craving that almost killed her. "You know, I have been picked up by the wrong man."
The wrong man on a dark street robbed, beat and brutally raped Ann. "He wouldn't stop. And I was screaming for God."
When it was over, she was still alive, and desperate for drug money. "I told him I wanted my money. Give me my money back. They'd be times when I didn't want to go. I didn't want to see a man. I didn't want to be looked at by a guy, and still go out there just to get that hit."
That hit. The crack cocaine. The companion of sex in the streets. "Someone that's on crack will do anything. Degrade their morals, degrade their bodies, degrade themselves, for that drug."
Finally fed up with life on the streets, Ann moved from Mississippi to Albany four weeks ago. "I need more than just help with drugs and alcohol, it goes deeper than that."
Now, she lives at Graceway Recovery Center. Up to 15 women can live at Graceway while they battle their addictions.
These women, most of whom are in their early 20's, have varying addictions. They spend their days in group sessions.
They have chores and activities, all designed as therapy. "It really gets them out of themselves and gets them to stop focusing on the problem and get into the solution," says Graceway staff member Ruth Fryer.
The solution centers on spiritual, mental and physical well being.
And it takes time. "It takes a lot of time to heal those deep wounds," says Fryer.
The wounds left by a lifetime of addiction. Ann vows to overcome them, and hopes her story will help others.
"There is help for women out there like myself to get help and get off the streets."
The streets where drugs and sex are for sale.
As for the women who were arrested for prostitution that night, 36-year-old Sheila Marie Dunn pleaded guilty to prostitution and got 12 months probation.
26-year old Shelly Marie Liberto remains in jail. She had only been out for seven days when she was arrested again.
She also entered a guilty plea to prostitution, but because she'd previously been busted for the same thing, she's now serving six months behind bars.
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