Vice Squad
Thursday, February 17, 2005
US Prostitution Arrest Statistics

Scripps Howard News Service released a report today concerning anti-prostitution enforcement in the US. The report notes the extreme variability across jurisdictions in the effort devoted to policing prostitution, and in the gender of those arrested. Further, street prostitution is more likely to be targeted than call girl operations. Perhaps surprisingly, "[f]ew arrests were reported in so-called Bible Belt states like Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. But less conservative places like Illinois, Nevada and New Jersey lead the nation in the rate of prostitution arrests." Here's another brief excerpt from an article, linked above, that draws on the report:
The Scripps Howard study examined prostitution arrest rates for 269 police departments, comparing the number of arrests in 2002 to the size of the population under each police jurisdiction. Nationally, there was an average of 46 prostitution-related arrests for every 100,000 people.

That rate varied from as high as 609 arrests per 100,000 in one of New Jersey's gritty suburbs south of New York to less than one arrest per 100,000 in San Diego County.
In absolute numbers, Vice Squad's base of Chicago leads the way, with more than 5,500 prostitution-related arrests in 2002.

The study further reveals the unreliability of FBI arrest stats on prostitution and commercialized vice. In Fairfax County, Virginia, of the 94 arrests claimed by local police in 2002, the FBI recorded but....four. "FBI crime statistics are based on voluntary cooperation by local law-enforcement groups. As a result, information is frequently incomplete since many local departments choose not to cooperate." So what is one to make of the FBI claim that the number of prostitution and commercial vice arrests in the US in 2003 was a bit over 75,000?

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