Jupiter, FL

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Jupiter, a city of approximately 50,000 residents, is located near West Palm Beach, Florida, in Palm Beach County.  Prostitution and sex trafficking of minors have been identified by law enforcement as substantial problems in the city, and residents have complained to police about prostitution in certain neighborhoods. Prostituted persons have also been murdered in the community.  In response to such concerns, police have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex.  The Jupiter Police Department has conducted several street-level reverse stings since 2000. JPD female officers have also assisted with stings in neighboring Lake Worth.

In January 2019, an investigation into human trafficking and prostitution occurring in a storefront “spa” brothel resulted in the arrest of 25 male sex buyers, some of which had their identities publicly revealed. The investigation started with a tip from a Martin County Sheriff’s Office investigator, in October 2018, alleging that managers at a Day Spa were trafficking women, forcing or coercing them to perform sex acts for money.  That tip prompted an investigation by Jupiter police and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies, in which detectives started watching the business from the parking lot and observed a total of 97 men (and no women) patronizing the business over six days.  Then, a trash pull led detectives to a spreadsheet of financial records. In January, detectives had obtained warrants and had placed secret surveillance cameras inside the massage parlor that captured sex acts.

Most of the men face charges for soliciting prostitution.  Depending on the circumstances of the individual events, some of the men may not be booked into the Palm Beach County jail, and will not have mug shots taken and available for publicizing. Residents of Palm Beach County you receive a notice in the mail saying they are summoned to appear in court; out of state residents may have warrants issued for their arrest in Florida. An arrest warrant does not guarantee a booking photo in Palm Beach County if there is a misdemeanor charge only. Other agencies in Florida may handle charging and booking differently; e.g., in related investigations, Martin County arrested and then booked sex buyers, and posted each mug shot online; and Indian River County agencies posted photos before the arrests occurred.

Soliciting another to commit prostitution is punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor for a first offense and a first-degree misdemeanor for a subsequent offense.  A first offense carries a jail sentence of up to 60 days, and a second offense carries a sentence of up to one year.  Under Florida Statutes, punishment options for people charged for the first time with soliciting a prostitute may include a diversion program that may involve performing up to 100 hours of community service and attending a course on the harmful effects of prostitution and sex trafficking “if such programs exist in the judicial circuit in which the offender is sentenced.”

Palm Beach County has had a john school program since the 1990s, and presents an option for those arrested in Jupiter and elsewhere in the County.  In February 1990, the Palm Beach County Circuit Court developed a prostitution diversion program, named the “Risk Education for Sex Offenders” program. Limited to first-time offenders, the course offered men arrested for soliciting prostitutes the option of completing the program in lieu of jail time. The course was composed of a two-hour class, a HIV blood test, mandatory attendance at four court hearings for prostituted women, and “reading a psychological profile of a prostitute who was diagnosed with AIDS.” Although it is unclear how long the aforementioned program remained in effect, in October 2009 the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported that a second school– the Prostitution Impact Prevention Education (PIPE) program– had been offering a diversion option to johns since 2000. Between 2000 and 2009, 3,000 sex buyers reportedly completed the program. Comprised of a five-hour lecture with “speakers from law enforcement, mental and physical health experts, and at times a former prostitute lecture in the class about the dark side of hiring a lady (or gentleman) of the night, or being one,” it allowed first-time offenders who complete the course, submit to a STD test, and avoid re-arrest the opportunity to expunge the charge from their record and avoid a conviction for solicitation. As of 2009, the course was being offered 3-4 times a year, in classes of ~75 participants. It was also offered in both Spanish and English.

 

 

Key Partners

  • Jupiter Police Department
  • Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

State Florida
Type City
Population 50606
Location
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