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First Offender Prostitution Program, an Interview With Michael Shively

Michael Shively, Ph.D.
Abt Associates Inc.
August, 2009

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Michael Shively, Ph.D.
Abt Associates Inc.
August, 2009

The first thing that needs to be done before any city should think about doing a Johns School is making sure that the police commitment is there to do the arrest operations that are necessary to get the guys into, into a class. You know, their common phrasing is "reverse stings"; sometimes they"re just called "stings." But police have to be committed to doing this, and, and a lot of communities are.

I mean, we've got evidence that they're over 600 communities in the country that do reverse sting operations, at least, you know, occasionally, and some of 'em do it very regularly. And without those, it's really hard to have a Johns School program because it's ... The other ways of arresting men that are buyers of commercial sex are, they, you know, they're arrested too seldom, and often for other offenses. You know, it could be for things like with children or lewd conduct if they're actually caught in the act out in public. But for, you know, the typical man that ends up in the different Johns Schools around the country is someone arrested through a reverse sting. So that's a key.

Now the ... Another thing is a court -- whether it's a city attorney's office or a district attorney's office -- also has to be on board with the program. Because they have to agree, if it's set up as a diversion option -- meaning that if they do the class, they get their case dismissed -- if it's structured in that way, they have to agree to it. The court has to say, "You show me a guy that looks like this, and he does the class; then when he's finished, we'll dismiss the case." So, you know, the courts need to be on board with this.

And other programs are set up so it's not a diversion option; it's just a condition of sentencing. And in those types of programs, they also have to be on board or else they just won't sentence anyone to go sit in a Johns School class. So, you know, the police and the court are key partners. They just have to be on board with it, or it's very difficult to do this.

The final answer on the money ... I can tell you what other communities have come up with, and the answer for them is somewhere between $200 and $1,500. Only two are at the $1,000 mark or above, and the national average is around $400 per john, and those are self-sustaining programs, so charging that much seems to support it. In San Francisco, they, they generated far more money than they needed simply to sustain the program by charging ... They charged $500 for several years; then they raised it to $1,000. They have a sliding scale, so that people that are poor, that would have trouble paying for it, they can pay less, but they actually yield $750 from each guy. And that's enough to generate excess revenue for the programs for the survivors of the commercial sex industry, the prostituted people.

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August 2009
Michael Shively, Senior Associate, Abt Associates

Michael Shively discusses an evaluation of the First Offender Prostitution Program in San Francisco which has gained tremendous interest across the nation.

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Date modified: April 15, 2011