In more than 190 U.S. cities and counties, arrested sex buyers can be ordered to perform community service as a condition of a sentence or a diversion program. Service might include such activities as cleaning streets where prostitution is known to occur. For most people sentenced on charges related to buying sex from adults, community service obligations range from four to 250 hours, and are coupled with other sanctions such as fines, fees, shaming, probation, and/or completion of “john school” education or treatment programs. For those arrested for buying sex with minors, the charges are far more serious felony-level offenses, and diversion options are usually not applicable (although fines, fees, shaming and community service may be applied as conditions of sentences, and in addition to terms of incarceration).
To learn more about this intervention, access the resources provided below, or use our map to see where this practice is in use.
Overview of Community Service for Arrested Sex Buyers in the U.S.
Study Finds 10 Percent of Sex Buyers Sentenced to Community Service in Denver
- Morris et al. (2012). Prostitution and Denver’s Criminal Justice System: Who Pays? (PDF, 939KB) Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking.
Municipal Ordinance on Prostitution Authorizing Community Service as Punishment
- Denver, CO: City and County of Denver Municipal Code (PDF, 124KB)
News Reports Addressing Community Service for Sex Buyers
- Aurora, CO:
- Paul (2017) “Aurora code enforcement officer recorded himself soliciting prostitutes on body camera” (PDF, 105KB)
- Aurora, IL:
- Dardick (2002) “Aurora cops arrest 13 men in latest prostitution sting” (PDF, 42KB)
- Marshall, MN:
- Gau (2019) “Sioux Falls man pleads guilty in Marshall sex sting” (PDF, 66KB)
- New York, NY:
- (1994) “Police Focus on Arresting Prostitutes’ Customers” (PDF, 127KB)
- Rochester, NY:
- The Orlando Sentinel (1988) “A judge has offered men arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer a break in their sentences, providing they attend a class on romance” (PDF, 83KB)
- Windsor Locks, CT:
- Kloczko (2014) “Judge grants special probation to ex Enfield coach charged with soliciting prostitution” (PDF, 75KB)