HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - After a prostitution sting Wednesday night, Huntsville police officials told WAFF 48 News that many of the women were repeat offenders.
Activists said many times these women end up in a cycle that goes from the streets to jail and back, but it's a cycle one local advocate is trying to change.
It's a complaint Huntsville police officials hear often from folks who live near a main drag known for prostitution. An undercover operation netted 17 arrests, but what happens next to these women?
Community activist Sheila McFerren said prostitution goes much deeper than just clearing the streets.
"It's a wakeup call for us to really take a part in it," McFerren said. "People can only solve community problems."
Many times after the jail sentence, the women go see McFerren to fulfill their community service requirements at HandsOn Greater Huntsville Volunteer Center.
McFerran said many times prostitution stems from drug use or the economy and impacts all members of society.
"It's really not low-income individuals, and we assume that prostitution is our minority in our community and our unemployed, and quite frankly, it's not," she said.
McFerran said volunteering in places to build self esteem and receiving substance abuse counseling can help turn these women's lives around.
"Through volunteering we can put them back on the right road and engage them in the community where it is service above self," she said.