NewsWest 9 Special Report: Prostitution Rising

NewsWest 9 Special Report: Prostitution Rising

by Kristen Lowe
NewsWest 9

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter says prostitution is growing the Permian Basin because of the influx of people, high wages and the Internet.

"Prostitutes come here from all over," Deputy U.S. Marshal, Jason Schwaninger, said. "They come here specifically during the weekends, more likely after paydays."

The problem is getting even worse because of the Internet. Websites like Backpage, Craigslist, even Facebook openly advertise for women.

It's also on the streets. Many people NewsWest 9 spoke with were too concerned for their safety to go on camera but they said they see it every day at many of the motels in Odessa.

"The cost of living has grown enormously," Sheriff Painter said. "A lot of women feel that the only thing they can do is resort to prostitution in order to stay alive and take care of their families. It is sad they feel that way."

Jesus House Volunteer, Mariah Stittsworth, has seen their suffering firsthand.

"Sometimes they come in with bruised ribs," Stittsworth said. "I've dealt with women who were bleeding. It breaks your heart because you know there is a better opportunity for these women."

Stittsworth says Jesus House will break ground on a shelter for women and children any day now. It will be for transitional living and it will house about 30 women and children.

Sheriff Painter urges anyone with information on prostitution in the Basin to contact Crime Stoppers at (432) 694-TIPS.

"If anyone tries to get a prostitute, they may walk into a room full of law enforcement and get a gun stuck in their face," he said. "Bingo, we're going to be there."

For more information on Jesus House Odessa, go to