Marian Hatcher, an assistant to Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart in the Women’s Justice Program in Chicago, is dedicated to shifting the punishment for sex trafficking from suppliers to buyers, or “johns,” reports Women’s eNews. “Historically, the supplier has been the one punitively handled in the criminal justice system and the john would just get a slap on the wrist,” said Hatcher. That began to change when the first school for johns, know as the First Offender Prostitution Program, opened in San Francisco in the mid-1990s.
Today, approximately 40 john schools serving 50 communities exist nationwide. Though “john school” is the generic term for educational programs for men who engage in transactional sex, each course has its own formal title, such as Chicago’s Ammend Program. By educating men on the consequences of soliciting sex, advocates say these programs raise awareness on the ramifications of sex trafficking and reduce recidivism. The reason behind educating men who pay for sex, says Hatcher, is simple: if there were no customers, there’d be no prostitution. In Illinois, men who are arrested for soliciting sex must pay a fine of as much as $1000. Legislation is also driving the shift toward combating the demand side of prostitution.