Ypsilanti Township, a Michigan city of roughly 53,000 residents near Ann Arbor, has identified prostitution as a substantial local problem for several years. Local law enforcement have also linked commercial sex sales to other serious crimes, including sexual and physical assaults that specifically targeted sex sellers.
In their efforts, the Ypsilanti Police Department has frequently partnered with their peers at the Ypsilanti Township Police Department and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office on a number of efforts to contain the local commercial sex market and the collateral problems and crimes that arise. Washtenaw County has a program for individuals wishing to leave prostitution, for example, and assists in demand reduction efforts. Johns arrested in reverse stings in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and greater Washtenaw County have their mug shots and identifiers posted on the county’s website with the intent that shaming will serve as a deterrent. Arrested johns may have their cars impounded and must pay the county $750 to retrieve them. The fine revenue is used to cover overtime costs for deputies on the undercover sting operations. At times, arrested sex buyers have been sent to a john school at which individuals formerly involved in prostitution discuss the hardships and negative outcomes associated with selling sex. Reverse stings usually result in four to eight john arrests, but are run intermittently because of logistical and financial challenges.
In the mid- to late 2000s, YPD, YTPD and WCSO officers joined forces to establish the Enforcement Against Streetwalkers in Ypsilanti (or E.A.S.Y.) program. The program is a designed as a comprehensive approach to addressing the root causes of prostitution along the Michigan Avenue corridor in the City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. According to law enforcement, “for years, traditional tactics of simply arresting known prostitutes or those that solicit prostitutes had been ineffective. E.A.S.Y. however, brings together law enforcement, human services, the judicial system and elected officials in an effort to provide the resources needed for someone to remove themselves from a life of prostitution and ultimately clean up the streets of Ypsilanti Township and the City of Ypsilanti.” Included in the E.A.S.Y. model are “john stings.”
These street-level reversals employ decoys along major thoroughfares. Individuals who attempt to purchase sex acts from the decoys are arrested, and– if soliciting from a vehicle– may have their car impounded and subject to a retrieval fee. Though major news outlets in the area do not typically carry the names and other identifying information about men and women arrested for prostitution-related offenses, the WCSO publicizes the names and mugshots of individuals arrested for attempting to purchase sex after they have been formally charged.
E.A.S.Y. program officials have suggested that the program’s efforts are driven by community complaints about the negative impact of prostitution on local neighborhoods. Among the concerns raised by local residents, business owners and city officials is an increase in other crimes, such as drug trafficking, robbery, assault, and fraud; devaluation of commercial and residential property in high-stroll areas; and “unsightly and potentially hazardous” paraphernalia (such as used condoms and syringes) in areas where street prostitution is chronic.
In 2011, a representative from the WCSO indicated in an interview with the Ann Arbor News that some johns arrested through the E.A.S.Y. program were required to complete a john school course. It remains unclear which law enforcement entity or service organization was/is responsible for convening said course, or if it is still in operation.
- Ypsilanti Township Police Department
- Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office
- Ypsilanti Police Department
- John School:
- Street-Level Reverse Stings and Auto Seizure:
- “10 Men Pinched in Prostitution Sting,” Ann Arbor News, June 27 2007.
- “Ypsilanti Township Steps up Prostitution Crackdown,” Ann Arbor News, October 19 2008.
- “Police Arrest 8 Men Accused of Solicitation of Prostitution in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, June 10 2011.
- “Police Arrest 7 Men along Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti-area Prostitution Sting,” Ann Arbor News, June 23 2011.
- “Ypsilanti Police, Sheriff’s Department Team up to Discourage Prostitution on Michigan Avenue,” Ann Arbor News, September 2 2011.
- “Police Arrest 6 Men in Prostitution Sting in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, September 30 2011.
- 2021 Decriminalization Policy – Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Beat: Three Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Ann Arbor News, July 31 2008.
- “Three Women Arrested on Prostitution Charges in Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, June 24 2009.
- “Two Arrested in Prostitution Sting in Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, November 18 2009.
- “Five Charged in Ypsilanti Township Prostitution Sting,” Ann Arbor News, December 11 2009.
- “3 Women Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting on East Michigan Avenue, Ypsilanti Police Say,” Ann Arbor News, December 2 2010.
- “Six Nabbed in Prostitution Sting in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, May 5 2011.
- “Prostitution Sting Yields 4 Arrests Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, June 29 2011.
- “7 Arrested in Prostitution Sting Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, September 1 2011.
- “Deputies Arrest Woman Suspected of Prostitution in Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, February 17 2012.
- “Police Arrest Two Women during Prostitution Sting in Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, February 23 2012.
- “14B District Court Seeking Funding to Continue Successful ‘Prostitute Court,'” Ann Arbor News, October 4 2014.
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Authorities Arrest Suspected Serial Rapist,” Ann Arbor News, May 11 2007.
- “Accused Serial Rapist Arraigned in New Cases,” Ann Arbor News, June 22 2007.
- “Accused Serial Rapist Pleads No Contest to Several Charges,” Ann Arbor News, December 17 2007.
- “Belleville Man Sentenced to Prison in Rape Cases,” Ann Arbor News, January 3 2008.
- “Police: DNA Links Ypsilanti Township Man to Brutal 2009 Rape,” Ann Arbor News, October 16 2012.
- “Jury Finds Man Guilty of Brutally Raping Prostitute,” Ann Arbor News, May 3 2013.
- “Man Convicted of Raping Prostitute to Spend up to 90 Years in Prison,” Ann Arbor News, June 3 2013.