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LA OKs Ads to Shame Men Who Hire Underage Prostitutes

Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 07:38 PM

Men caught buying sex from underage prostitutes could soon find their faces plastered on billboards in Southern California under a proposed ordinance in the nation's most populous county.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a "john-shaming" publicity campaign on Tuesday, sending the proposed ordinance to lawyers to study and return within 45 days to determine at what point in the legal process such photos can be posted and whether there would be any risk of lawsuits.

"The overriding thing we're trying to do is shame those individuals that buy children for sex," Supervisor Don Knabe, who authored the proposal, which also calls for posting the men's names and faces on the Internet, said on Wednesday. "It's a powerful deterrent."

Various forms of "john-shaming" tactics have been used for years with mixed results. But measures have picked up speed lately across the country, with a National Institute of Justice study finding 60 percent of police stations publicize alleged john's names in some way, often by posting mug shots on the Internet.

In California, the policies have proceeded in fits and starts. A "Sex Purchasers" website set up by the Orange County district attorney's office has a call-out to county police agencies for offenders' photos.

Oakland police announced plans to follow Fresno in posting photos of alleged johns and pimps about every two weeks. But police in Richmond, California, last month changed a policy of posting alleged johns' photos on social media after users started adding details including addresses, officials told the Los Angeles Times.

The measures have faced resistance from civil libertarians and defense lawyers who argue there is a risk of wrongfully shaming people whose charges end up getting dropped or who are acquitted. Opponents say the shaming also unfairly hurts a suspect's family with no proof it works as a deterrent.

Inspired by a similar program aimed at deadbeat dads failing to pay child support, the Los Angeles ordinance is intended to battle underage sex trafficking, not prostitution in general, although details are yet to be worked out.

Either way, Knabe has no sympathy for the accused johns.

"It's called choices and consequences," he said. "Good choices, good things happen. Bad choices, bad things happen."

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Men caught buying sex from underage prostitutes could soon find their faces plastered on billboards in Southern California under a proposed ordinance in the nation's most populous county. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a john-shaming ...
la, underage, prostitutes, ads
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2014-38-10
Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 07:38 PM
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