People convicted of soliciting prostitutes in Eau Claire County will soon have an option to reduce their charges by going to a "John School". The goal is to reduce repeat offenses by dispelling the myth that prostitution is a victimless crime.
In a recent prostitution sting, 10 men were arrested at an Eau Claire motel. They were responding to an ad for sex posted by detectives on the website Craigslist.com. The men are awaiting trial, but Eau Claire County District Attorney Brian Wright wants to offer them a deal. It is called "John School". Think of it as a daylong class where offenders learn about the legal and physical risks to themselves and the prostitute.
Wright says after a successful graduation from "John School" offenders can have their charges reduced. "But, in order to get that reduction, we want to make sure we address the underlying reasons, or at least present information that will hopefully reduce the rate of recidivism for solicitation of prostitution or pandering." Wright adds offenders who complete the program can avoid the stigma of having a pandering charge on their record.
"John Schools" can be found in other, mostly large, cities across the nation. Madison's version started in 2010. Jan Miyasaki is the Director of Project Respect, a nonprofit and a stakeholder in the diversion program. Their "John School" is just one part of their response to a surge in prostitution. She says, "It was part of a larger trend in responding to sexual exploitation and prostitution to address both the demand side of the issue as well as the supply side."
Miyasaki says Madison's "John School" stresses one major point; prostitution and pandering are not victimless crimes. She says the program seems to be working because she hasn't seen many familiar faces.