View Point

Friday, October 24, 1997

Law-enforcement officials
are prosecuting pimps

By Steven S. Alm

Lamar Baker, aka "Mario" and "Michael Bernard"

Frederick Jerome Young, aka "Jerome Young"

Andre Young, aka "Andra Young"

Russell Anderson, aka "Jouvan Abdul"

Michael William Chavious

Daunya Richfield, aka "Yvette Flynn"

Jon Cureton (deceased)

These are the names of pimps who used to earn money literally off the backs of women and girls, prostituting themselves in Waikiki. They are now serving time in federal prison for doing so.

Therefore, I read Kelly Hill's Oct. 17 View Point article, "Pimps, not prostitutes, should be targeted," with great interest. I share many of her concerns regarding the victimization of young women and men in the world of prostitution.

While "Pretty Woman" starring Julia Roberts may sell as Hollywood's version of "the life," the reality is a life of being beaten, raped and degraded. The perpetrators are both their "johns" and their pimps.

Hill makes the case in her column that prostitution can be deterred by targeting pimps, and points to the 25-30 pimps operating in Waikiki. I agree with her.

In the past two years, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Hawaii has prosecuted seven pimps for transporting women across state lines to engage in prostitution. In two of these cases, the prostitute was a minor.

Six of the pimps were convicted in federal court and the other killed himself trying to avoid arrest in Los Angeles. Five are currently serving sentences in federal prison on the mainland, and one is awaiting sentencing.

One of the ways in which pimps control their prostitutes is by physical violence and threats of more violence against the prostitute and her family.

The young prostitutes are often isolated and scared. The ones from the mainland and Canada are even more cut off from any support system that cares about them as more than a money-maker.

Our federal efforts have attempted to address this very real fear of retaliation by the pimps.

In every case so far, the pimps have been kept locked up, in custody, from the day they were charged, through conviction and sentencing until the present day as they serve their sentences in federal prisons on the mainland.

With the federal guidelines in place, the pimps are not getting probation; they are getting prison time. Since there is no parole in the federal system, the pimps will be serving all of their sentences.

And those prostitutes who used to work for them are safe and have the opportunity to move on to new and different lives.

A number of happy endings have resulted. Most of the prostitutes were from the mainland or Canada. They have moved back and started again. Two are married and working full time in legal jobs. One has started a family.

Current enforcement efforts at the state and federal level are attempting to hold all parties to this crime responsible: the prostitutes, the johns and the pimps.

The Honolulu Police Department investigates and arrests both prostitutes and johns. The Honolulu Prosecutor's Office takes them to court. And the U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to target the pimps who ply their cowardly trade on young women and girls. Innovative new efforts regarding injunctions and forfeitures are being evaluated and attempted in this area.

The state administration and the Legislature are moving ahead to build much needed prison space so that those who break state laws will be held accountable and made to serve their prison terms instead of being released early or turned away because there is no bed space.

We also must increase our efforts to reach our young people, to assure them that they have worth and to educate them in the realities of the prostitution trade.

By doing these things, prevention through education, and aggressive law enforcement on all fronts, our statement is clear. Prostitution is wrong: It's harmful to its participants, and it won't be tolerated.

To any person now caught up in prostitution in Honolulu, the message is clear: Turn in your pimp. He or she is not worthy of your silence. We will work with you to put your pimp in prison where you can't be hurt.

Prostitutes can get a new start in life if they take the step of calling us, HPD-Vice at 529-3101 or the FBI at 521-1411.

Steven S. Alm is United States attorney for the District of Hawaii.

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