CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, August 30, 2008

To reduce prostitution, cities try shaming clients

Prostitutex Tired of arresting and re-arresting prostitutes, police in communities across the nation are increasingly targeting their clients with an old technique — shame.

A two-year study for the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice, led by researcher Michael Shively and released in March, found more than 200 communities nationwide have tried targeting customers of prostitution in print, on TV, the Internet, billboards or by sending "Dear john" letters home.

Shively, of the social science research company Abt Associates in Cambridge, Mass., has continued to track efforts and said his list now includes about 280 examples. He said use of these techniques appears to be increasing.

Chicago, New York, Denver, St. Louis and Madison, Wis., are among the cities that publicize arrests or send letters home, a USA TODAY review of policies showed.

University of Wisconsin Law School professor Michael Scott said police turn to humiliation as a low-cost strategy, but it doesn't deter prostitutes. Scott said it's more effective at scaring away customers, but then new clients replace them. [Mark Godsey]

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