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Hall got as far as a diploma from Manual Arts High, then became a fixture on Figueroa Street--a career prostitute with an addiction to crack cocaine. Hall, 46, has a rap sheet that stretches back to She was found to be HIV-positive after a court-ordered test in , but continued soliciting and was convicted of prostitution six more times.
She knows when she goes and stands on the corner she could pass on the AIDS virus. Jones knew that no judge would let her file so severe a charge. But she was determined to make a statement out of this case. So today, when Hall appears at a pretrial hearing in Compton Superior Court, Jones will refuse to plea bargain and press for an enhanced sentence of up to nine years in prison--a striking contrast to the normal bargain that often frees prostitutes after a few months.
Prostitution is usually tried as a misdemeanor. Conviction carries a maximum three-year sentence. Jones said she will ask for three times that much because the criminal justice system has failed to sufficiently punish Hall during her string of arrests for soliciting while infected.
The law was first invoked in Los Angeles County in against a male prostitute who was sentenced to two years in state prison. Tens of thousands of prostitutes have been tested for HIV in the county as a result of the law, but only have been convicted on a felony charge since , officials said. Jones began her career as a prosecutor more than a dozen years ago, specializing in hard-core gang cases. One grisly example was the case of two reputed gang members who were found guilty of attempted murder in the drive-by shooting of an year-old girl who--with a bullet lodged in her heart--carried her 2-year-old brother to safety.
Jones grew up near Vermont Avenue and th Street, not far from the Figueroa corridor, which has been plagued by prostitution for decades. When she speaks of her youth, she talks of her father, a retired school police officer who pastored a neighborhood church.