Jacqueline Denise Anderson is a woman who has told authorities that she is 21, has no employment, no savings, no property and that she makes her living from the contributions of friends.
Police say she is a prostitute, one of hundreds they arrest again and again.
In the last nine months, Jacqueline Anderson has been arrested four times for alleged prostitution and four times for allegedly robbing men as they passed through the Thomas Circle NW red light district.
She has two convictions for prostitution from these charges and fines totalling $100.
Prosecutors dropped the other charges because they felt the evidence wasn't strong enough, because the complainants disappeared, or because they felt she had enough charges against her.
Police complain that they are wasting manpower and money in arresting the same people for prostitution. The blame the judges and prosecutors for treating the women too leniently.
The Washington Post selected Anderson at random from a group of repeat offenders supplied by police, and embareked on an odyssey into the criminal justice system to see what happened to her.
The examiniation showed that at one time or another police, prosecutors and judges all were responsible for returning her to the street. It showed how police make soliciting cases, how some of those cases fall apart, how charges disappear in plea bargaining, and how judges tender justice.
Let's pick up with a confrontation last Jan. 10, as recorded in police files:
Shortly before 11 p.m., officer Louis V. Blacato and his partner, under cover detectives with the prostitution unit, drove up 14th Street to Thomas Circle and a woman beckoned them to pull over to the curb. They already had the first of three elements of a soliciting case: the woman had initiated contact.
"Are you looking for girls?" Andreson asked.
"Yeah," Blancato said.
"How much are you spending?
He had the second element of the offense: the woman had talked about money. Courts have ruled that officers can discuss sex with a suspect, and even lie, as long as she made the initial approach.
"Are you the police?" Anderson asked at one point.
"No . . . are you?"
Still wary, Anderson asked Blancato to feel parts of her body.
"No," Blancato said. "You might lock me up if I do."
"What are all those clothes doing in your car?" she asked, looking at some of Blancato's other guises.
"My wife threw me out last night."
Well," she said, "you got a woman now, and you're gonna have a good time tonight."
She began talking about prophylactics that she wanted him to use, and then Blancato arrested her.
He had the final element of solicitation; she had mentioned, albeit in a roundabout way, that what was for sale was sex.
Police felt they had a good case this time. Four days earlier, they had arrested Anderson for allegedly soliciting only to have prosecuotors drop the charges because the only one officer was present during the alleged solicitation. His partner couldn't get to the scene in time. Prosecutors usually insist on two police witnesses. Blancato's partner had been with him.
During the arrest process, the D.C. bail agency noted that information Anderson gave them conflicted with information she had provided during previous arrests.
She gave her address as a room at 1112 11th St. NW and said she had lived there 18 months. In a statement two months earlier she said she had lived there three months. She said the woman she lived with was her cousin. Earlier, that same person was merely a friend. Becuase of these conflicts, the bail agency made no recommendation as to agency made no recommendation as to whether she should be released her pending trial after she posted a $100 deposit on a $1,000 bond. He ordered her back in court on Jan. 25.
On Jan. 17, in midafternoon, Anderson was again arrested for allegedly soliciting. According to police files, this is what happened.
She approached undercover officer Gregory Shelton Shelton and his partner in the Thomas Circle area and told them she would perform oral sodomy on them for $10.
"Ten dollars?" the officers asked.
"No, I mean $15 apiece," she said.
The officers agreed and she got into their van, directing them to pull into a nearby parking lot. Another woman on the street screamed that they were police and Anderson tried to scramble out. The officers subdued her.
Police cahrged her with two counts of soliciting. "We did it because she solicited each of us and each count was a violation of the law," Shelton said.
Prosecutors dropped one of the charges "It's one transaction," a U.S. attorney explained. "The woman is standing there and there happended to be two policemen in the car instead of one."
In Superior Court on Jan. 18, the bail agency pointed out continuing deiscrepencies in Anderson's statements about her background. She pleaded not guilty to the soliciting charge, and although she still had the Jan. 10 charge pending, Judge William C. Pryor released her to the custody of a third party.
Prosecutors then huddled with her attorney and agreed to drop the Jan. 17 charge in return for her guilty plea to the Jan. 10 charge.
"Someone who is convicted for soliciting is eligible for a sentence of 90 days in jail and a fin of $250," explained Henry Greene, chief of Superior Court operations for the U.S. Attorney's office. "With that kind of penalty it's worth it (to drop one charge) for the guilty plea."
On Jan. 25 Judge George D. Neilson accepted the guilty plea to soliciting and sentenced Anderson to 30 days in jail or a $50 fine.
Six days later, her attorney, Milchael S. Lieber, appealed to Judge Neilson to reduce the fine.
"The $50 fine poses a substantial burden" on Anderson, Lieber said in his motion. He also noted that this was her first conviction. The court rejected the appeal.
Anderson did not pay the fine, the court records show, and on Feb. 24 Neilson issued a bench warrant for her arrest. On March 7 Anderson appeared in court and paid the fine.
Meanwhile, on Feb. 4, police charged Anderson with robbery afte she and two other women allegedly climbed into a man's car at 14th Street and Thomas Circle NW and stole his prescription glasses. That charge was dropped for lack of evidence.
Anderson had been arrested on similar charges last Nov. 6, 9 and 10, when she and other women allegedly entered cars stopped at Thomas Circle, beat the drivers with their fists, and took their money. The charges and were dropped for insufficient evidence. In two of the cases, the complaintants failed to press charges. This happens frequently, police says, because complainiants are married or from out of town and don't want their friends and relatives to know about the case.
Last May 25, Anderson was again arrested for soliciting.
In court, the Bail Agency again noted contradictions in her statements, noted a previous soliciting conviction and two fines for disorderly conduct. Judge Fred L. McIntyre released her pending trial after she paid a $100 deposit on $1,000 bond. On July 12 Judge Neilson sentenced her to 30 days or $50 and she paid the fine that day.