In San Francisco’s “john school,” officially the First Offender Prostitution Program, men arrested for soliciting a prostitute pay a $1,000 fee and spend a Saturday afternoon listening to sex-trafficking experts, neighborhood activists, and doctors who subject them to photographs of venereal diseases. If they take part, prosecutors drop the misdemeanor charge, says the San Francisco Chronicle.
The program is effective, says a study to be issued by the U.S. Department of Justice. In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that men who attended San Francisco’s john school were 30 percent less likely to be rearrested for soliciting a prostitute than men who did not attend. “The punch line is, these programs work,” said Michael Shively of Abt Associates, which did the two-year study for the National Institute of Justice. “Some men are probably responding to the appeal of their own self interests, which in the class emphasizes the personal risk they face if they continue to involve themselves in prostitution. And some men may be responding to the information conveyed about the harm they are causing the women they hire, and to the communities where the prostitution takes place.” He said that in San Francisco the recidivism rate for men who solicit prostitutes was about 8 percent before the program began. Now, it rests at about 5 percent.