A demand-reduction tactic that has been used in more than 2,430 U.S. cities and counties involves publicizing the identities of sex buyers. This tactic can take many forms. Methods of publicly disseminating identities include news outlets, police or district attorney websites, social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), and/or billboards. In some communities, citizens initiate and maintain websites identifying sex buyers (e.g., Columbus, OH; Oklahoma City, OK). In June 2019, the Governor of Florida signed a bill into law that created a registry of convicted sex buyers (similar to sex offender registries) and provides a publicly accessible listing of identifying information, including the full legal names, last known addresses, color photos, and criminal history. Through the implementation of the new law, convicted sex buyers in all communities in Florida are potentially subject to having their identities publicly disclosed through the state registry. More information about Florida’s “Soliciting Prostitution Public Database” can be found HERE.
Another tactic that can be considered a form of identity disclosure involves sending a letter or other notification to the addresses of registered owners of vehicles suspected of being used to solicit prostitution, alerting owners that their vehicle was seen in an area known for prostitution, or was used to interact with prostituted persons. Alternatively, notification may be sent to the home addresses of sex buyers arrested in reverse stings. The letters usually include warnings citing health risks for sex buyers, their spouses and other partners, and the harm of commercial sex to communities and survivors. The use of “Dear John” letters or messages intended to alert those living with known or suspected sex buyers is relatively rare, with less than 100 cities and counties known to have ever employed this tactic. Information about that approach is presented on the webpage for the tactic, “Letters.”
To learn more about Identity Disclosure and how it has been implemented, please see our Tactic Summary document (March, 2023) as well as the links to resources provided below. You may also locate where in the United States that this tactic has been used by visiting Demand Forum’s mapping or listing function, and selecting from the list of tactics. By clicking on each of the cities and counties listed or mapped, you may access brief summaries of the implementation of each tactic in that community, and links to source documentation.
City Council Motion Authorizing Public Identification of Arrested Sex Buyers
Florida Registry of Convicted Sex Buyers
- Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database
- New Florida Law Establishes Publicly-Accessible List of Convicted Sex Buyers
Police Press Releases
- Bakersfield CA Information About Arrestees
- Costa Mesa, CA Police Press Release
- Dayton, OH Police Press Release
- Federal Way, WA Police Press Release
- Howard County, MD
- Mount Laurel, NJ Police Press Release
Police/District Attorney Website Displays of Arrested Sex Buyers
Police Department Policy for Online Posting of Prostitution Arrestee Identities
Private Websites Intended to Publicize Identities of Sex Buyers:
Billboards Displaying Identities of Arrested Sex Buyers
News Reports About Communities Identifying Arrested Sex Buyers
- Bloomington, MN
- Dayton, OH
- Homewood, FL
- Montgomery County, TX
- Nassau County, NY (Long Island). Operation “Flush the Johns”
- Orange County, CA. District Attorney initiative to post sex buyer identities on website.
- Pinellas County, FL.
- Reno, NV. Editorial.
- San Bernardino County, CA. Print and video reports on the District Attorney’s Office “Stop the Johns” project
- Santa Ana, CA.
- Yakima, WA.
Editorials and Debates about Disclosing Identities of Sex Buyers
- Should cities shame johns by putting their faces on billboards, television, and the internet after their arrest?
- The Men Who Buy — and Sell — Sex (New York Times)
- Cities turn to humiliation to fight prostitution (Christian Science Monitor)
- The shame page (Chicago Tribune)
- John TV considered in Topeka
- New Haven, CT “John of the Week” Campaign
- Televised discussion about Nassau County, Long Island “Flush the Johns” campaign (2013)
Media Ads with Arrestee Identities
News Reports About Running Media Ads with Arrestee Identities
- Buffalo, NY, 2013
- West Palm Beach, FL, 1992: