Criminal Justice

50 Days in Jail for Waiting on a Ride

"You got people who just want to ride around and randomly take people to jail for nothing."

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Seth Herald/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/Newscom

Erika Elias claims she was waiting for a ride outside a Columbus, Georgia, trailer-park last month when a local police officer spotted her. Because Elias had been been picked up for prostitution nearby previously, and the neighborhood is one where cops regularly make prostitution arrests, Police Officer Ryan Vardman assumed she was there selling sex again that morning. Elias was arrested for "loitering for the purposes of prostitution" and now faces nearly two months in county jail.

Elias was also charged with giving false information to a police officer after initially identifying herself as "Stephanie Elias." She later told State Court Judge Michael Cielinski she had lied about her name because she was afraid her past criminal record would lead the cop to suspect her of prostitution, even though that wasn't her purpose when Vardman spotted her around 9:45 a.m. that Thursday. "I was really not prostituting, but [Vardman] said I was prostituting," she testified.

That she was arrested regardless "means I can't stand anywhere," Elias complained to the court. "I can't even stand there and wait on a ride. … I'm trying to change my life and you can't change your life, because you got people who just want to ride around and randomly take people to jail for nothing."

Elias' testimony highlights the problem with prohibitions on "loitering for the purposes of prostitution." Under these and similar laws, one needn't indicate a willingness to exchange sex for money in any sort of verbal form, whether explicitly or in coded language. Nor must a guilty party engage in any actual sexual activity, attempt to engage in such activity, or have any direct interaction with supposed customers. The criteria for this crime is entirely subjective: does a cop think you look like someone selling sex?

In practice, this means that people who have previously been arrested for prostitution, areas where cops have previously made prostitution arrests, and anyone not dressed classy enough for a particular cop's taste are targeted. As Melissa Gira Grant recently detailed in a Village Voice feature, New York City cop criteria for such arrests (about 1,300 from 2012 through 2015) might include the fact that someone in a "prostitution prone" area was wearing "tight jeans" and showing cleavage, was carrying condoms, or had talked to someone passing by. For people with previous prostitution arrests, simply going about their daily lives can (and does) lead to subsequent arrests, especially if they live in the same area as the initial arrest.

How do authorities get away with this? Because the people most often arrested for prostitution pre-crime—poor women, transgender women, people without identification—tend to be those least equipped to fight the charges, for a host of reasons. And they are up against a charge which is incredibly hard to disprove, since it's based mostly on not actions or words but some cop's vision of their intent.

As for Elias, she plead guilty to both charges against her, and was sentenced to either 50 days in jail or a $700 fine. Asked by Judge Cielinski why she was pleading guilty if she hadn't been loitering for prostitution purposes, she told the court: "Let's be honest judge, I really don't have time to just argue with y'all. I'm wrong if I'm right. If I'm right, I'm still wrong."

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  1. “ride around and randomly take people to jail for nothing”

    Not quite as catchy as “protect and serve”, but certainly more accurate.

      1. But of course it is not for nothing. To be sure, there are small social costs for cleaning up our society and clamping down on the Prostitutes and the Trolls. Flag-burning too, and then satire, so can make America great again. We have to stop the satire. We’re going to stop the satire, we’re going to stop the satire. Surely no one here would dare to defend the “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated judge in our nation’s leading criminal “parody” case? See the documentation at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    1. They aint takin’ them to jail for nuthin.

      Fines and fees. Fines and fees.

      1. “Reasonable Rap Control Laws”

        I’ll bet that the arresting ossifer was deeply steeped in listening to gangsta rap, where ALL black women are portrayed as “bitches and hos”. So that’s the origin of the “guilty till proven innocent” bias here. Before you can be allowed to buy gangsta rap, you should have to PROVE that you are not a LEO! Get rid of these culture biases, see? This falls under “Reasonable Rap Control Laws”!!!

  2. Watching girls go passing by it ain’t the latest thing
    I’m just standing in a doorway
    I’m just trying to make some sense
    Out of these girls passing by, the tales they tell of men
    I’m not waiting on a lady, I’m just waiting on a friend

    1. Trying to make some cents?

      1. Aw, come on, no need to undervalue your services like that.

  3. Wait for a ride like a thug, get arrested like a thug.

  4. Fuck me.

    I just realized I could have looked for woodchipper deals on Black Friday.

    1. Fuck me.

      Not going to happen. She was waiting on a ride, damn it!

      1. I think the moral of the story is it doesn’t matter one way or they other what she was doing that morning; all that matters is at some point in space/time she was going to get fucked and that’s the crime.

        1. She got fucked on this particular morning, too. Just not in the fun way.

          1. Would any of our resident authoritarian bootlickers prefer to comment about whether the police provide a “fun way” of being fucked? Tony?

            1. Mouth fucking? Tony is always up for a good, ol’ fashion, Government mouth-fuck.

          2. I always wonder about prostitutes and tom sawyers fence painting scam. Like would being a prostitute make work more like sex, or sex more like work?

            1. I would imagine the latter unless you are in Julia Roberts in a movie with Richard Gere.

            2. From various interviews I’ve seen/read it can go either way and is highly dependent on the person, the client, and how they ended up in that line of work/why they stay in it.

              In some of ENB’s articles she talks about job satisfaction surveys with sex workers and prostitutes and they tend to be within the normal range of more respectable career fields and certainly better than some (like say cop for instance)

          3. Nor was she paid for her services, but rather was forced to pay for services which she neither solicited nor wanted.

            1. Hey, she got a ride to the police station out of the deal.

              1. I believe the point has been made.

          4. Wish I could get a boner again. Boners were great. Fuckin was fun most of the time, as long as my sister didn’t get too rough.

  5. her around 9:45 a.m

    If you’re not standing in front of a house at 945 am for the purposes of selling sex, why ARE you standing in front of a house at 945 am?

    1. Waiting for the lunch rush?

    2. After all, 9:45 AM is the time when most Johns are out on the streets.

      1. Morning wood crew.

  6. Are you loitering with intent to prostitute or are you just happy to see me? –Ofcr Vardman

    1. Yeah, he’s mad that she didn’t “play ball”.

  7. New York City cop criteria for such arrests (about 1,300 from 2012 through 2015) might include the fact that someone in a “prostitution prone” area was wearing “tight jeans” and showing cleavage, was carrying condoms, or had talked to someone passing by.

    Eliot Spitzer referred to this as a “personal matter”.

  8. someone in a “prostitution prone” area was wearing “tight jeans” and showing cleavage, was carrying condoms, or had talked to someone passing by

    I’m four for four on that list.

    *wink*

    1. Many jurisdictions define “prostitution prone area” as “a place where Crusty is at.” True story.

      1. There’s at least one jurisdiction that specifies particular parts of Crusty’s body as “prostitution prone areas”.

        1. Excuse me for doing my part in helping to make America great again by spending money at small businesses and improving the local economy.

          1. Most of ’em are not that small.

            1. Speaking of prostitutes, my home town consistently has some of the hottest

                1. Not a one of them look like Julia Roberts 🙁

              1. Hottest? Is that how their faces got so, i assume, badly burned?

              2. Clearly, #1 used to play goalie for the darts team. #7 is Mary Elizabeth Ellis visiting from an alternate universe..

                  1. There’s an alt-me now? Or just an alt-you?

              3. Sweet mother of Christ!

                *shudder*

              4. Ugh…..thanks! I can’t unsee that!

          2. Your prostitution prone areas are small business, indeed.

    2. was wearing “tight jeans” and showing cleavage

      Ass-cleavage counts.

    3. And this is why smart working girls have a couple of burner phone and a backpage ad.

  9. If a cop asks for your name, are you obliged to tell them? If so, that is fucked up. Right to remain silent? TV wouldn’t lie to me, would it?

    You shouldn’t lie, but if you aren’t driving or doing anything else that requires ID, then why should they be asking at all? If you are doing something illegal, they can arrest you and figure out who you are. If not, they have no business messing with you.

    Seems like the 1st 4th and 5th amendments should pretty well cover that.

    1. According to the ACLU, there are some states where you are required to tell cops your name, though not to produce ID. Stating your desire to remain silent seems like the best option.

      1. That’s when you get arrested for resisting arrest and obstruction. Plus several other things that may or may not be actual crimes.

        1. And that arrest comes after a bit of getting roughed up.

      2. There’s another fucked up thing.

        In order to exercise your right to remain silent, you apparently have to say that that is what you are doing. Which kind of refutes the notion that you have a right to remain silent.

        Or I guess you could follow Dave Chappelle’s lead and just hold up a sign that reads “fif”.

      3. How about making pretend sign language? How many police know that, especially all the foreign sign languages you might need for deaf people?

        1. One finger is global. Perhaps intergalactic.

  10. Asked by Judge Cielinski why she was pleading guilty if she hadn’t been loitering for prostitution purposes, she told the court: “Let’s be honest judge, I really don’t have time to just argue with y’all. I’m wrong if I’m right. If I’m right, I’m still wrong.”

    After a Google, it may be optimistic to think this had any effect on the judge.

    Georgia city fines DV victims who won’t testify

    Cielinski imposed a $150 “victim assessment” and told her she would be arrested if she did not pay within a week.

    Troper memorials are high on his priority list though.

    For nine years, Judge Michael P. Cielinski has worked to see that those who serve and protect Georgia’s motorists as Georgia State Patrolmen and have lost their lives are adequately memorialized.

    1. Cielinski imposed a $150 “victim assessment” and told her she would be arrested if she did not pay within a week.

      “Dammit, you’re getting in the way of my authoritating! You will, by God, come to heel RIGHT NOW!”

      Also, “Cleopatra Harrison”! Rock on, Cleo!

      1. Judge Woodchipper never sleeps…

    2. Troper memorials are high on his priority list though.

      I too support memorials for the countless thousands of individuals who have lost their lives, or at least their social lives, due to TVTropes.org addiction.

      1. That place is a pit from which there is no escape. If only we could harness the power behind the visual-cognitive suction, we could light the eastern seaboard.

        1. no light escapes a black hole…

    3. those who serve and protect Georgia’s motorists as Georgia State Patrolmen

      Is THIS is what those guys are doing when they’re sitting on the median? I genuinely thought they were sitting there trying to catch me in some minor infraction so they could pull me over, make me late, and shake me down. This changes everything.

    4. “Asked by Judge Cielinski why she was pleading guilty if she hadn’t been loitering for prostitution purposes, she told the court: “Let’s be honest judge, I really don’t have time to just argue with y’all. I’m wrong if I’m right. If I’m right, I’m still wrong.””

      Huh… I thought that was what “no contest” pleas were for. Essentially saying “I’m not guilty, but I’m also not willing to argue with the FYTW clause”.

      1. Perhaps Ms. Elias is unaware that that’s an option. Seems to me her legal experience so far has not been with the higher concepts of the legal system.

      2. And then the court finds you guilty.

  11. If anyone is or knows someone starting a gofundme page to pay the $700 for her, I’ll throw a couple bucks down.

    1. [reports Nikkodemus for soliciting]

      1. I figure as long as we’re going to bitch about them locking people up for no reason, maybe we should help try to mitigate that in the ways we are able. Put up or shut up so to speak. So yes, I will absolutely solicit for things like this. Report away.

        1. I was joking.

          1. Aha, I was unsure, so I gave my standard response. I did contemplate a “Fuck you, buddy” in that same spirit, but didn’t know if you were serious or not. Time to get the sarcasm meter recalibrated.

            1. On Hit’n’Run, when in doubt, assume sarcasm. The alternative is often despair.

            2. Hang around more often Nikk, you’ll catch on.

              Yeah, I’d give a couple of bucks too.

        2. The last time Citizen X took serious action was the time they pulled ALF reruns off the air. What’d you get, 35 signatures?

          1. 37. But i don’t think I.P. Freely was an actual guy.

            1. And yet Young Boozer is an actual guy.

              1. Mike Hunt is a real name, right?

            2. Neither was Hugh Jass.

              1. Dick Tusukon?

    2. I’m thinking I will provide funds in person in anticipation of a moist thank you. Of course, I will offer her a ride to the clerk to pay the fine so she is not abducted/accosted while going about her business, I mean, leisure activities.

      Please get ready to start a gofundme in the event I get arrested for pimping or soliciting because I got too close this woman.

  12. Asked by Judge Cielinski why she was pleading guilty if she hadn’t been loitering for prostitution purposes, she told the court: “Let’s be honest judge, I really don’t have time to just argue with y’all. I’m wrong if I’m right. If I’m right, I’m still wrong.”

    Now there’s the tired cynicism of someone who knows how the system works, and that it isn’t working for her.

    1. This. And it makes her wiser than most Americans.

      1. Well, you can plead no contest, which is the official way of acknowledging the corrupt legal system.

  13. IF YOU HAVE NO LAWFUL BUSINESS OUTSIDE, REMAIN IN YOUR HOME, CITIZEN.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    WHY HAVEN’T YOU EMERGED FROM YOUR HOME IN WEEKS, CITIZEN? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?

  14. The police department of this town has more resources than it needs. Gotta downsize.

    1. a 50% Reduction In Force sounds about right, starting at the top.

  15. Waiting while black is definitely a crime.

  16. ENB’s Twitter is fun.

    We’d prolly behave better if she slapped us around like that a time or… y’know, I’ll bet not even half the women commentariat makes it this far before retiring to their bunk.

    1. That guy looks like the personification of Twitter.

      1. I think Trey and Matt might have used him as some type of “model” for SP characters.

        1. I’ve never seen a neckbeard with a neckbeard before.

          1. To think that Tulpa was hiding in my basement all along…

            *shivers*

            1. That’s the most vile euphemism I’ve encountered here.

              1. Did…did you..wait. Did you just change forum handles mid-thread?

                1. I’d hung on to that other one for, like, over a week. Immediate action had to be taken, and I won’t apologize for it.

            2. “They all tulp down here.”

    2. You know, that dude only lives about an hour away from me. I could drive over there and chase him around in circles until he dies from myocardial infarction. I figure it would take about 3 minutes of “cardio” on his part.

      Just say the word ENB.

      1. “Ah warsh mahseff with a raig on a steeick.”

        1. “Once a munf, whether i needs to or not.”

      2. I assume that last name is an alternate spelling of “Nachos”

        1. It would have been “Nachos” if not for the drizzle of molten cheese that got into the keyboard.

    3. “She may well be innocent.” How magnanimous of you, Vlacho Cheese.

      1. Once you a prosti you always a prosti.

        1. Not that Nachos Grande there would know. He’s “saving” himself for “true love.”

          1. He has spent more time fashioning that mustache than he has spent eating vegetables for the past fourteen years.

    4. I think he misses the point a bit.

      That there is a law that gives them any reason at all to arrest someone who is just standing somewhere, I don’t care where or what else goes on there, is the main problem here. I also think the police are shits for enforcing it that way, but that’s really a secondary problem.

  17. Who has the burden of proof here?

    1. Innocent until proven guilty only applies to police officers and other government employees. Even then when they are proven guilty they are still considered to be innocent, since every conviction of a cop is a travesty of justice.

      Whereas everyone else is guilty. Even when proven innocent they are still guilty. After all, they only won because they hired a good attorney or beat the rap on a technicality. Police officers don’t make mistakes, and DAs do not prosecute innocent people.

      Everyone knows this.

      1. That’s the line from the Star Wars fan film Troops:

        “All suspects are guilty. Period. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be suspects.:

    2. The state, of course, but since they have a sworn officer testifying it means his word is presumed to be the truth, She was wise to plead guilty, or else she could have been arrested for perjury for disagreeing with the officer’s testimony, which is, of course, falsely testifying in court.

      1. Oh the other hand, if anyone knows about whores, its cops.

    3. Winston’s mom, and that is but one of her many burdens.

  18. If she were telling the truth, she could have a witness come and attest to the fact that they were on their way to pick her up. Instead, she plead guilty.

    While it is reasonable and agreeable to me to detest such laws and to be against prohibition of prostitution on principle, I hate to see frauds being used to make the case.

    1. She doesn’t have to do shit as there was no evidence that she was loitering with intent for prostitution.

      1. Shush, you. I’m trying to figure out what he ate for 2nd lunch.

        1. Cheesecake Factory. By which i mean an entire building.

    2. That witness would be jailed for solicitation.

  19. Trump?

  20. Two trailer park girls go ROUND THE OUTSIDE, ROUND THE OUTSIDE.

    If she’s not a prostitute, where’d she get $700?

    1. was sentenced to either 50 days in jail or a $700 fine

      If the poor folk have to pay a fine they do it via installments.

      1. Yep…one day at a time.

  21. The justice system parasites have to get their blood somehow. If they picked on middle class or wealthy people, there’d be a stink.

    Bottom feeders going after those who can’t fend for themselves.

  22. “Ya gotta let a ho be a hoe”

    – Hamilton

  23. Ok, so prostitution should not be criminalized, and it’s an obvious travesty from a due process standpoint but… do people here actually believe she was waiting for a ride, in a sense that does not involve paid sex? Wanting justice doesn’t mean you have to be naive.

  24. “””Asked by Judge Cielinski why she was pleading guilty if she hadn’t been loitering for prostitution purposes, she told the court: “Let’s be honest judge, I really don’t have time to just argue with y’all. I’m wrong if I’m right. If I’m right, I’m still wrong.””””

    And this is why I distrust plea bargains and court settlements as proof that someone is guilty. Too often, these are just admissions that the accused does not have the resources to fight the charges, so it’s just better to pay up to get the issue to go away.

    (And getting a public defender doesn’t necessarily help, either, because too often, they start with the assumption that their client is guilty, and won’t do the work necessary to prove otherwise.)

  25. The underlying problem?

    Prostitution shouldn’t be illegal.

    Sitting/standing shouldn’t be illegal, unless a private property owner objects to it being done without permission on THEIR property.

    Police shouldn’t be in the revenue business.

    Done.

  26. Too bad she pled guilty. She should have pled otherwise and forced the state to spend the money on a public defender. What PROOF, strong enough to stand even the “preponderance of the evidence” does this piggycop have to prove beyond question she was there to solicit? Could she produce the friend who was coming to pick her up to testify that’s why she was there? This would be a slam dunk for even a lazy half asleep PD. Further, her guiilty plea encourages these rotten cops to do it more often. OH LOOK, I got another one….. ain’t I just a doin a FINE job? Perhaps… a fine job of raling the people he’s supposed to be protecting.

  27. Was she standing in front of her house waiting for a ride? Or was she standing where prostitutes get picked up?

    Why didn’t she simply get the person who was going to pick her up to verify that she was waiting for a ride from them?

    Why do writers at reason simply accept the word of any confirmation bias that wanders by without even the merest hint of investigation or reporting? Is it because they don’t WANT our support?

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  29. Yes, she was waiting on someone to ride her hard and put her away wet.

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