One method used in over 2,200 U.S. cities and counties involves publicizing the identities of arrested sex buyers. The “shaming” tactic can take many forms. Methods of dissemination 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 the created a registry of convicted sex buyers 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 the Soliciting Prostitution Public Database can be found HERE.
Another tactic that can be considered “shaming” involves sending a letter or other notification to the address of registered owners of vehicle suspected of being used to solicit prostituted individuals, alerting owners that their car was seen in an area known for prostitution. Alternatively, letters 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 just 91 cities and counties known to employ this tactic. Information about that approach is presented on the webpage for the tactic, “Letters.”
To learn more about this intervention, access the resources below.
City Council Motion Authorizing Shaming of Arrested Sex Buyers
- Cincinnati City Council Motion (PDF, 82.2KB)
Registry of Convicted Sex Buyers
- Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database
- New Florida Law Establishes Publicly-Accessible List of Convicted Sex Buyers (2019)
Police Press Releases
- Bakersfield CA Information About Arrestees (PDF, 0.9 KB)
- Costa Mesa, CA Police Press Release (PDF, 25.1KB)
- Dayton, OH Police Press Release
- Federal Way, WA Police Press Release (PDF, 73.3KB)
- Howard County, MD
- Mount Laurel, NJ Police Press Release (PDF, 26.1KB)
Police/District Attorney Website Displays of Arrested Sex Buyers
Private Websites Intended to Shame Sex Buyers:
Billboards Displaying Identities of Arrested Sex Buyers
News Reports About Communities Identifying Arrested Sex Buyers
- Dayton, OH
- “Dayton to Air Names of Prostitute Patrons”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 10 1993.
- “Names Ad Makes Lovers Mad”, Dayton Daily News, February 14 1993.
- https://www.whio.com/dayton-announces-initiative-combat-prostitution (2019)
- https://www.wdtn.com/city-of-dayton-announces-buyer-s-remorse-initiative-to-combat-prostitution (2019)
- Nassau County, NY (Long Island). Operation “Flush the Johns”
- Orange County, CA. District Attorney initiative to post johns on website, 2013.
- Reno, NV. Editorial.
- San Bernardino County, CA. Print and video reports on the District Attorney’s Office “Stop the Johns” project
- Santa Ana & Orange County, CA.
- Yakima, WA. News reports about new shaming effort, beginning June, 2013.
Editorials and Debates about Shaming 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 on Running Media Ads with Arrestee Identities
- Buffalo, NY, 2013
- West Palm Beach, FL, 1992: