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Criminology

The regulation of sex work continues to be a divisive topic in England and internationally. Policies governing the policing of the sex industry in England are continually revised and debated, but are seldom grounded in empirical evidence of sex workers’ experiences. Based on 49 qualitative interviews with sex workers in England, this article finds that indoor sex workers had far more positive experiences with the police than outdoor sex workers. Despite this difference, both indoor and outdoor sex workers perceive their interactions with the police through the lens of their stigmatized status as sex workers and do not expect respectful treatment by the police. This article presents compelling evidence that an enforcement-led approach to policing creates insuperable barriers to the success of protective policing.

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Abstract
This article uses Jonathan Simon’s concept of ‘governing through crime’ as a framework to argue that the state has framed sex work, and its surrounding problems, as issues of crime. There has been a privileging and proliferation of criminal justice responses to sex work in England and Wales, at the expense of more social or welfare-based responses and at the expense of creating safer environments for sex workers to work. Criminal law is used to manage and control sex work, to reinforce other policies, such as immigration and border control, and to appear to be doing something about the ‘problem’ of sex work without providing rights to sex workers. By framing sex work as an issue of crime, with sex workers being both the perpetrators of crime and the potential victims of exploitative crime, the state is able to legitimise its actions against sex workers, while ignoring the harm done to sex workers by the state.

Ola Florin, “A Particular Kind of Violence: Swedish Social Policy Puzzles of a Multipurpose Criminal Law” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, September 2012, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 269-278

This article explores the policy underpinning Sweden’s 1999 ban on purchases of sexual services with a focus on the social and health service sectors and their role vis-à-vis people who sell sex. It argues that the rationale behind the ban is difficult to reconcile with legislation and practices beyond the merit of criminal justice. While an understanding of prostitution as “men’s violence against women” may serve symbolic functions at central policy level, it can hardly guide local implementation without conflicting with core social policy principles. The article concludes that there is a need to address the agency of people who sell sex, since denying or minimizing such agency may be counterproductive to the policy’s own objectives.

Full text available here.

Rachel Lovell and Ann Jordan, “Do John Schools Really Decrease Recidivism? A methodological critique of an evaluation of the San Francisco First Offender Prostitution Program”. Published online, July 2012

A growing number of governments are creating “john schools” in the belief that providing men with information about prostitution will stop them from buying sex, which will in turn stop prostitution and trafficking. John schools typically offer men arrested for soliciting paid sex the opportunity (for a fee) to attend lectures by health experts, law enforcement and former sex workers in exchange for cleared arrest records if they are not re-arrested within a certain period of time. A 2008 examination of the San Francisco john school, “Final Report on the Evaluation of the First Offender Prostitution Program,” claims to be the first study to prove that attending a john school leads to a lower rate of recidivism or re-arrest (Shively et al.). Despite its claims, the report offers no reliable evidence that the john school classes reduce the rate of re-arrests.

This paper analyzes the methodology and data used in the San Francisco study and concludes that serious flaws in the research design led the researchers to claim a large drop in re-arrest rates that, in fact, occurred before the john school was implemented.

Full text available here.

Gehi, Pooja. “Gendered (In)security: Migration and Criminalization in the Security State.” Harv. JL & Gender 35 (2012): 357.

Abstract:

Over the past decade, both immigrant rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights have been key issues in United States political and legal debates. Yet, the two issue areas have rarely publicly intersected within these debates. The “war on terror” has heightened the public debate around immigration, national security, and border control; however, LGBTQ concerns and a discussion of LGBTQ immigrants continue to be rhetorically separate from these immigration-focused conversations. This rhetorical separation is especially problematic for those living at the intersections of different identities, including LGBTQ immigrants of color who live in poverty. As this Article will show, the separation ignores the ways in which individuals who do not fit the public description put forth by “rights-based” organizations are the most negatively impacted by the laws and regulations that are being publicly challenged by these mainstream groups.

Full text available here.

Dewey, Susan, and Tonia P. St Germain. “Sex Workers/Sex Offenders Exclusionary Criminal Justice Practices in New Orleans.” Feminist Criminology, September 16, 2014, 1557085114541141. doi:10.1177/1557085114541141.

Link to the study.

Abstract

Until 2012, the New Orleans criminal justice system forced persons convicted of certain prostitution offenses to register as sex offenders under an antiquated (1805) statute that criminalizes oral or anal sex in exchange for compensation. This article explores attitudes and beliefs that enabled Louisiana’s misuse of the sex offender registry against primarily indigent African American street-based sex worker women and transgender individuals. Findings presented here derive from a feminist interdisciplinary (cultural anthropology and law) methodological strategy that included qualitative ethnography, quantitative examination of Louisiana’s 64 parish-specific sex offender registries, and legal/policy analysis.