Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

City Will Shame Prostitutes’ Customers

Get caught paying for sex? That'll cost you $2,500 and maybe exposure on TV.

By - Apr 11th, 2019 02:19 pm
A street prostitute speaks with a customer in a parked vehicle. Image is in the public domain.

A street prostitute speaks with a customer in a parked vehicle. Image is in the public domain.

The City of Milwaukee is developing new tools to fight prostitution: publicly shaming those caught attempting to hire a prostitute and raising the fine by 500 percent.

“We’re making some progress, but not enough to make a difference,” said Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II of the city’s efforts so far. “I want them out of my district and I want this to stop,” he said of men that come into his north side district to solicit sex.

An ordinance introduced by Stamper would raise the minimum fine for those caught soliciting a prostitute from $500 to $2,500. The maximum, regulated by state statute, would stay at $5,000. “These guys need to be caught, prosecuted and fined to the hilt,” said Stamper.

The name of the fine has also been changed, a move designed to put more shame on those arrested. It used to simply be a “loitering-soliciting” charge, now it includes the word “prostitute.”

The second phase will be getting the word out about those caught and convicted.

The practice is known as “john shaming,” said assistant city attorney Heather Hough. “Our office has advised the Common Council that as long as there is a conviction at a municipal court or at the state level there is nothing that would prevent the Common Council or police department from legally displaying or putting records out there of individuals with those convictions.”

“We’re absolutely in support of this ordinance and this initiative,” said Milwaukee Police Department chief of staff Nick DeSiato. “If you don’t want your face blasted across the news, maybe you want to think twice.”

“I think it’s worth pursuing,” said Ald. Robert Donovan. The veteran alderman said it was previously done under the administration of Police Chief Nannette Hegerty on the city’s television channel. Hegerty resigned in 2007.

“This is another layer on top of what we’ve been working on for a very long time,” said Ald. Jose G. Perez. The south side alderman said work is underway to make a third conviction a felony. “We want to dry up this demand as best as possible. I want the community to know it doesn’t end here.” He praised the support the city is seeing from community-based groups. “We know we can’t ticket our way out.”

The alderman said last summer was particularly difficult in his district because of construction on W. Greenfield Ave. in Donovan’s district. Perez said the work caused prostitution to move east into the portion of W. Greenfield Ave in his district. The district border is S. 20th St.

The penalty provision is co-sponsored by Stamper, Perez, Donovan, Milele A. Coggs and Mark Borkowski.

Proposed Amended Solicitation Ordinance

106-35.  Loitering-Soliciting Prostitutes.

1. DEFINITIONS. In this section:

a. “Known area of prostitution” means a public place where within 5 years previous to the date of arrest for violation of this section, and within the knowledge of the arresting officer, a person had been arrested for a violation which led to a conviction in Milwaukee municipal court or Milwaukee County circuit court of an offense involving prostitution.

b. “Known prostitute” means a person who, within 5 years previous to the date of arrest for violation of this section, had within the knowledge of the arresting officer been convicted in Milwaukee municipal court or Milwaukee County circuit court of an offense involving prostitution.

c. “Public place” means an area generally visible to public view and includes, but is not limited to, streets, sidewalks, bridges, alleys, plazas, parks, driveways, parking lots and buildings open to the general public including those which serve food or drink or provide entertainment, and the doorways and entrances to buildings or dwellings and the grounds surrounding them.

2. PROHIBITED CONDUCT. It shall be unlawful for any person to loiter or drive in any public place in a manner and under circumstances manifesting the purpose of inducing, enticing, soliciting or procuring another to commit an act of prostitution.

3. EVIDENCE OF VIOLATION. The violator’s conduct must be such as to demonstrate a specific intent to induce, entice, solicit or procure another to commit an act of prostitution.  No arrest may be made for a violation of this section unless the arresting officer first affords the person an opportunity to explain the person’s conduct, and no one shall be convicted of violating this section if it appears at trial that the explanation given was true and disclosed a lawful purpose. Factors that may be considered in determining whether the purpose referred to in sub. 2 is manifested are the following:

a.  That the person frequents, either on foot or in a motor vehicle, a known area of prostitution.

b.  That the person repeatedly beckons to stop or attempts to stop, or engages known prostitutes in conversation.

c.  That the person stops the motor vehicle the person is the operator of and picks up or attempts to pick up a known prostitute.

d. That the person solicits any individual to engage in prostitution-related activity.

e. Any other evidence which may prove such purpose is manifested.

4. PENALTY. Any person who violates any provision of this section shall, upon conviction, forfeit not less than $2,500 nor more than $5,000, together with the costs of prosecution, and in default of payment shall be imprisoned as provided by law.

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Related Legislation: File 181155

Categories: City Hall

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