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Anaheim May Start Shaming Convicted 'Johns'

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(Photo by aerogondo2 via Shutterstock)
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Anaheim is considering publicly shaming men who solicit sex with the goal of curbing prostitution and human trafficking.Authorities say that much of the prostitution in Orange County involves young women or even underage girls who are forced into sex work by human traffickers, the Orange County Register reports. In an effort to shut down trafficking, the City Council will vote tonight on a new policy that would put the names of convicted 'johns' on a list that would then be posted online and given to media outlets.

Authorities say that often these men are more afraid of others knowing they were caught with a prostitute than they are of being arrested for the crime, especially those men who have wives, girlfriends or families. While there is no evidence that says public shaming is an an effective deterrent, District Attorney spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder says that defendants' lawyers frequently request that their client's name not be put on the list. That request is never honored. Authorities hope that knowing they will be exposed if they are caught will instill enough fear that they just won't do it. The idea is that putting a dent in the number of cash-carrying johns would decrease the demand for trafficked humans.

Currently, those convicted of soliciting sex in Orange County outside of Anaheim are already put on a list, but those convicted inside of Anaheim are not. This is because Anaheim handles its own criminal misdemeanors, while the D.A.'s Office handles the rest.

The OC D.A.'s Office announced in April 2013 that they would begin publishing the names of those convicted of solicitation online. Many of these men are arrested in stings. Last summer, for example, police in Santa Ana held a sting in which female officers pose as prostitutes and recorded men agreeing to pay $40 to have sex with them. The police took photos of the men and sent summons to their home addresses in an attempt to shame them, CBS reports.

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The policy has the support of local motel owners, who say they have a hard time determining whether a man is legitimately looking for a place to crash, or if he's planning on using the motel to meet with a prostitute.

One argument to 'john shaming' was raised by Laurie Shanks, Clinical Professor of Law at the Albany Law School in New York, in an April 2013 interview with KPCC when Orange County first announced they'd be 'john shaming.' She warned that publishing the names would also hurt a man's family and children by humiliating them and possibly financially, if the publication caused the man to lose his job. She also said that the shaming doesn't differentiate between a man who tries to purchase a trafficked child, which is a felony, and a man who solicits sex from an adult doing it for their own personal or financial reasons, which is a misdemeanor.

Los Angeles has a different program, 'John School,' where first-time offenders can elect to take a $600, day-long course in why they shouldn't solicit sex from prostitutes, KPCC reports. Shame and fear play heavily into the curriculum, as men are educated on the possibility of robberies and disease, as well as the often violent and troubles lives of those they're soliciting.