The Sacramento Bee has recognized a trend in the newspaper’s new database of arrests posted online: Prostitutes are regularly arrested, but their customers tend to go free. From mid-December to mid-March, local law enforcers arrested 223 people on prostitution-related charges. Of those, 210 were prostitutes, 11 were pimps and just two were customers. It’s not unusual for police to bust more prostitutes than johns. But the disparity in Sacramento County is particularly wide. In 2005, women accounted for 85 percent of prostitution-related arrests here, higher than in any other large California county.
Both community activists and police officers agree that busting prostitutes but not their johns doesn’t do much to slow down the crime. But cops say it takes more resources to bust johns – resources they don’t have. “The easy answer is that it is faster and more efficient to arrest streetwalkers than it is to set up a sting operation for the johns,” said Sgt. Pam Seyffert, commander of the Sacramento Police Department’s vice unit. One hooker says it’s not fair. “The johns should be busted,” said Latorrie Johnson, 19, arrested seven times in the past two years, “because without them we wouldn’t do any business.”