Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trafficking class for men using prostitutes

Trafficking class for men using prostitutes:
By Richard Roth and Patrick Feeeney, CNN - More than 25 men sit in an attorney's office - each was arrested for prostitution-related offences and each is now trying to avoid jail.
But this is not a defense lawyer's office. It's the Brooklyn district attorney's office and the road away from jail is a lesson in the risks of using prostitutes - Johns School.
Assistant District Attorney Grace Brainard tells them: "The crimes you were arrested for would lead to one penalty and one penalty only and that is jail time. And the next time you are arrested for prostitution, jail time will be the only offer on the table."
The men were arrested for attempting to pay for sex from undercover policewomen posing as prostitutes on the streets of New York. Men who solicit prostitutes are so-called 'johns' and this gathering is known as Johns School.

It's a program that teaches the dangers and penalties of prostitution and sex trafficking. It's been going on for the past 10 years under the official name of Project Respect conducted by the Kings County (Brooklyn), NY District Attorney's office.
Because of their clean record of no previous arrests, the men were given the opportunity to take the three-hour plus course – which cost them more than $300 – and avoid time behind bars. They could have had their day in court but risk of jail time was of great concern.
Rhonnie Jaus, the chief of the Sex Crimes Bureau, said the class attempts to sensitize and educate the men on the dangers of prostitution to both the John and the prostitute.
"You think you're having sex with an adult, and it turns out it could be something quite different," Jaus said, "It could be a trafficked child brought from China, brought from South America, so there are many different ramifications of this crime."
Brainard emphasized that most girls enter prostitution between the ages of 11 and 14. "They were children when they entered this life," she said.
The men also listened to a lecture from Rosetta Menifee, a former prostitute who had contracted HIV.
"Obviously the goal is not for them (the johns) to do it again," Menifee said, "but the reality is a lot of them will, so the goal is really to talk about what the risks are so that the have the knowledge of it from different perspectives, and hopefully they'll make better choices."
Different speakers pointed out the different risks inherent with solicitation.
Grace Pabarue, a public health educator at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, highlighted sexually transmitted diseases in a photo slideshow.
Former NYPD Lieutenant Jeff Anderson said a prostitute could be a potential threat to a John. "Some of them are emotionally disturbed, some of them abuse drugs," Anderson said. "Many prostitutes can defend themselves, many prostitutes have defended themselves."
One of the johns who wanted only to be identified as 'Skeeter,' said the course showed him different perspectives about the women forced to work in prostitution.
"Some of them have drug habits, maybe some of them work for pimps," Skeeter said. "I wouldn't feel good knowing that I'm paying that money, and it's going to further keep someone so they're enslaved."
Prosecutor Jaus said that the sessions also help develop sex trafficking cases and can encourage johns to help prostitutes escape their situation.
"We've had a few cases in which the John actually brought the prostitute, who told him about the fact that she was being trafficked, to the police station," Jaus said.
"He didn't go in with the young woman, but he dropped her off because she was crying and told him, "look, I've been trafficked.""
Brainard told the johns they should report any case of sex trafficking they witness, even if they were soliciting at the time.
"Taking that step to get law enforcement involved does not mean you have to report it yourself," Brainard said. "In fact, you don't even have to give your name."
At the end of the session the johns are given an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. If they avoid arrest over the following six months, the arrest is wiped off their record.
Despite Menifee's fear that many will continue using prostitutes, Jaus said the course, which started in 2002, has seen a success rate of more than 90 percent. "Over the past 10 years, we've had over 3,000 attendees of the John School," Jaus said.
"So we've only had 26 people rearrested in Brooklyn for patronizing, who have gone through the John school."
None of the other boroughs of New York offer such an alternative.

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