Kennebunk Joins Trend of Focusing on Prostitution Clients


Gone are the days of the nameless, faceless “john,” says the Associated Press. Men who buy sex may end up with their faces on the Internet or in the newspaper. Kennebunk, Me., is shaken up by police promises to reveal identities of dozens of clients of a fitness instructor accused of prostitution–just the latest place to use public shaming. Fresno, Ca., runs a website called “Operation Reveal” with mug shots of suspected johns. Oklahoma City has the vigilante-style “JohnTV.” An Arlington, Tx., billboard declares, “This could be you” under the picture of four suspects.

More than 870 municipalities that have launched initiatives targeting men who hire prostitutes. Surveys at 200 police departments since 2008 found most consider targeting customers the best way to curb prostitution, because they fear publicity more than fines or even jail time. It continues a long-developing trend away from prosecuting the “supply” side – the prostitutes themselves – and targeting the demand. “What they usually ask is, `Is my wife going to find out? Is my boss going to find out? Is my name going to be in the paper?'” said Michael Shively, who ran a study funded by the National Institute of Justice. In Kennebunk, Alexis Wright, 29, is accused of operating a prostitution business out of a Zumba studio, videotaping encounters and keeping meticulous records of her clients. Police plan to release more than 100 names little by little over the next several weeks.

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