SJPD Publishes Names of People Suspected of Buying, Selling Sex

San Jose cops spent a few days posing as prostitutes and prospective clients last month to bust on suspicion of buying and selling sex. The prostitution sting around Oak and South First streets resulted in criminal citations for 27 suspects—most of them “johns” and none suspected of human trafficking. SJPD then published their names, ages and cities of residence in addition to six women suspected of turning tricks. Like a growing number of police agencies throughout the country, SJPD is punishing sex workers and their so-called “johns” by outing them online. Critics of the shame game often liken the practice to latter-day stocks, the medieval tool for public humiliation, and the internet to a public square. What makes the ploy controversial to privacy advocates including American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Rowland, however, is that the crime—an especially stigmatized one, at that—is merely alleged at this point. “The government may be justified in broadly publicizing an accusation of a crime when it is trying to locate a suspect or protect the public,” she tells Fly. “But when law enforcement’s motivation for digitally publicizing the details of someone’s arrest is rooted in a desire to maximize page clicks or to shame an individual who is innocent in the eyes of the law, that is a betrayal of the constitutional values that all government employees should hold dear.” While law enforcement has a right to post mug shots and allegations along with the identities of the suspects, Rowland cautions against the practice as a matter of policy. Orange County holds off on publishing names of people busted for prostitution-related crimes until prosecutors secure a conviction. SJPD spokesman Sgt. Enrique Garcia tells Fly that the agency maintains the right to publish arrest information online as long as it doesn’t interfere with an ongoing investigation. “In this case, the department had received numerous complaints from the community regarding prostitution related activities in the area,” he says. Police have also fielded reports from that neighborhood about assaults, robberies and homicides—including one related to prostitution, Garcia said. San Jose PD publishes identifying details about people suspected of other nonviolent crimes, he adds, pointing to 11 press releases about people arrested on suspicion of sex crimes involving children and one about a San Jose officer arrested for allegedly pilfering weed.

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9 Comments

  1. This article is a wonderful tool for teaching American Literature to high school students. I taught this course in a chronological order starting with the Puritans and ending with post modern literature. To make the course relevant, I would remind the students that you can see the ideas from each age in the local media. The internet shaming of people that participate in a victimless crime is a modern adaptation of The Scarlet letter.

    • Victimless crime, really. Lets discuss how many “Johns” are robbed and beaten during this victimless crime. More importantly, how did you miss how many so called prostitutes are the result of human trafficking. Better rethink your teaching.

  2. It’s not a victimless crime. If nothing else, the activity blights the neighborhood, chasing away reputable businesses and people who would patronize those businesses. If I go someplace and see sketchy activity, I never go back. The people who live there may be stuck there. Do you want your kids walking past prostitutes and their clients every day?

  3. This is still an ongoing issue in this neighborhood. I watch them from my windows while undoing dishes. I sometimes bring my dog on a walk so they can pet her for a moment and stop being a sex worker for a moment ya know. It’s sad mostly there, I hope they are at least wanting to do this work instead of being forced to.

  4. Victimless…. Tell that to the dead guy behind Wienershnitzel a couple months ago who was shot and robbed

  5. Why won’t the SJPD publish names of SJ cops and local Gov’t officials that also got busted in this “sting”?

  6. Men are society’s sanctioned prostitutes. Men have shorter life spans; higher rates of cancer and stress related illnesses; are predominant in jobs with the highest risks and are more likely to die on the job than are women. Men therefore also sacrifice their bodies for money to pay alimony and child support but the money goes to an ex-spouse instead of a pimp. Why not publish the names of all women receiving alimony and child support? Prostitution threatens the power and the strangle hold that women generally have over men which is why most women object to it while a good portion of men don’t care.

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