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|January 26, 2010
Director of Communications
BMC-ROXBURY PROBATION OFFICERS WORK WITH NATIONAL AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO STOP PROSTITUTION IN THE AREA
Posing left to right are BMC Roxbury Probation Officer Edith Alexander, Boston Police Department Sergeant Detective Robert Smith, Probation Officer Mary Ball, and Boston Police Department intern and Boston University Student Michael Miller
Edith Alexander and Mary Ball, two Probation Officers at Boston Municipal Court-Roxbury, assisted federal law enforcement officials from across the country in a prostitution sting that attempted to dismantle a national ring which includes street walkers as young as 15.
Alexander and Ball helped the team, which set up operations in a Boston hotel, interview the girls and women as well as gather information on where they are based. Six women and girls as well as one John were arrested that evening during the sting, dubbed “Project Common Cure,” conducted by the U. S. Marshall’s Service.
“We are familiar with the women and their backgrounds through their involvement with the court. Many are on probation. We also know their pimps and the Johns,” said Alexander.
She added, “After the sting and when the feds move on, we are right here in the community. We tell the girls that if there is anything we can help them with to get them back on the right track, they should come to the Roxbury Court. ‘Mary Ball and I will help you.’”
This was not the first time a law enforcement agency has turned to Alexander and Ball for their help in addressing prostitution in the streets of Boston. The two Probation Officers work closely with the Boston Police Department and go out with the department regularly on prostitution stings along Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury.
Their input is invaluable, according to Boston Police Department Sergeant Detective Robert Smith.
“One of the reasons we take them out is because they know the girls and their conditions of probation. They (the alleged prostitutes) know that they can’t throw stories out at us because the Probation Officers know exactly who they are,” Smith said.
Alexander and Ball are often called at the last minute to go out with Boston Police officers to help them identify the women who sell themselves on the street, the Johns who troll the avenues for them, and the women’s pimps.
Ball said of her work with Alexander, “When we pick up the girls, we talk to them and make them feel at ease. A lot of them ask if they are going to go to jail or ‘what’s going to happen to me now?’ Many of them do it for financial gain or because they are in love with their pimp. For the young girls, it may be their first boyfriend. We try to get them to understand that there is another way---another solution.”
The majority of the women Ball and Alexander pick up when they are out with the Boston Police are on probation or court-involved.
Community group leaders such as Michael Kozu of Project Right said they appreciate the work the two dedicated Probation Officers perform in the community and the huge impact they have had in reducing prostitution activity in the area. Project Right is a tenant’s rights group based in the Grove Hall section of Roxbury.
“There have been a lot of concerns regarding prostitutes and Johns in our neighborhood. Wives, daughters, and grandmothers have been propositioned going to school and to work. The Roxbury District Court Probation Officers have been very proactive and effective in reducing activity in the area,” Kozu said.