Category Archives: Prostitution

Essays on social justice and criminal justice

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at Kings College London has published a set of essays based on contributions and papers from a two day conference held by the Centre earlier this year.

This collection of essays from more than 20 researchers and academics highlights how the government has failed to tackle deep-rooted social injustice. Published as part of our Harm and Society project, the collection explores themes such as the impact of historically high levels of inequality, endemic violence against women and the increasing reliance on criminal justice measures to manage social problems.

Table of contents below the fold.


Continue reading Essays on social justice and criminal justice

New issue: Deviant Behavior 28(6)


Deviant Behavior 28(6) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • Exploring Careers in Deviance: A Joint Trajectory Analysis of Criminal Behavior and Substance Use in an Offender Population – Christopher J. Sullivan; Zachary K. Hamilton
  • A Virtual View of Managing Violence among British Escorts – Kim Davies; Lorraine Evans
  • A Comparative Analysis of Social Learning and Social Control Theories in the Prediction of College Crime – Allison Ann Payne; Steven Salotti

New reports: round-up of reports from the US, Canada and Australia

ex libris gul law reports collectionA selection of recently-published criminal justice-related reports from the US, Canada and Australia:

Black Victims of Violent Crime, published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, full Report (pdf):

Presents findings about violent crime experienced by non-Hispanic blacks… Highlights include the following: Blacks were victims of an estimated 805,000 nonfatal violent crimes and of about 8,000 homicides in 2005; blacks accounted for 13% of the U.S. population in 2005, but were victims in 15% of all nonfatal violent crimes and nearly half of all homicides; during the 5-year period from 2001 to 2005, the average annual rate of nonfatal violent victimization against blacks was 29 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. For whites the rate was 23 per 1,000, and for Hispanics, 24 per 1,000.

Comparison of Hate Crime Rates Across Protected and Unprotected Groups, published by the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, full report(pdf):

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not currently covered by federal hate crime laws. This analysis compares victimization rates for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals with groups already covered by hate crime laws. Results indicate that the hate crime rate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals is comparable to the rate of hate crimes against already protected groups.

Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities 2006, published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, full report (pdf):

Presents data from the Survey on Sexual Violence, 2006, an administrative records collection of incidents of inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate sexual violence reported to correctional authorities…The report provides an in-depth analysis of substantiated incidents, including where the incidents occur, time of day, number and characteristics of victims and perpetrators, nature of the injuries, impact on the victims, and sanctions imposed on the perpetrators.

Control or Regulation of Prostitution in Canada – Implications for the Police – Royal Canadian Mounted Police research and evaluation report:

In the literature the police perspective [on health and safety of sex workers and the current legal situation in Canada] is too often based on traditional, unfounded, unproven and biased opinions of prostitutes and prostitution. This is problematic for legislators, who require objective and well documented information. This study is a first step in clarifying that relationship. It examines issues relating to legal options, their impact on prostitution and their impact on the police.

Human trafficking to Australia: a research challenge, published by the Australian Institute of Criminology, full report(pdf):

…Human trafficking presents different challenges from domestic crimes, like sexual assault, because of its often transnational nature and the potential involvement of a network of facilitators in a number of countries… This paper argues that we need to be aware of trends, internationally and in the region, to ensure we have early warning of activities that could impact on the level and type of trafficking to Australia, and to ensure we are providing the most effective responses to prevent and detect trafficking. This paper provides an overview of the challenges involved in obtaining reliable information on the trafficking process.

Homicide in Australia : 2005-06 National Homicide Monitoring Program annual report, published by the Australian Institute of Criminology, full report (pdf):

This report presents information on the circumstances and characteristics of homicide in Australia in 2005-06… The report examines the factors which appear to have driven the increase, which includes increases in the number of females killed (87 females killed in 2004-05 compared with 113 females killed in the current year). Stranger homicides also increased from 19 percent in 2004-05 to 26 percent in the current year. While there are noted increases in the current year, comparisons with previous years such as 2003-04 indicate the trends are quite similar.

Photo credit: ex_libris_gul, Creative Commons License

New issue: Criminology and Criminal Justice


The May 2007 issue of Criminology and Criminal Justice 7(2) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist – Paul Rock
  • Prospects for progress in penal reform – David Faulkner
  • Tackling on-street sex work: Anti-social behaviour orders, sex workers and inclusive inter-agency initiatives – Tracey Sagar
  • Beyond apology?: Domestic violence and critical questions for restorative justice – Julie Stubbs

Putting prostitutes at risk

The UK Government must stop putting prostitutes at risk, argues Petra Boynton, commenting on a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal. She explains:

Professor Michael Goodyear and colleagues argue the UK government’s current approach towards prostitution is putting sex workers at risk. The editorial comes after a bungled home office consultation on prostitution that didn’t represent the needs and opinions of sex workers, the overuse of anti social behaviour orders (ASBOs) that have forced prostitutes to work in increasingly isolated ways, and the tragic murders of five young women in Ipswich at the end of 2006.

Boynton’s post is here, and you can read the editorial in full here.

Serial Sexual Murderers and Prostitutes as Their Victims

An article that caught my eye this week: “Serial Sexual Murderers and Prostitutes as Their Victims: Difficulty Profiling Perpetrators and Victim Vulnerability as Illustrated by the Green River Case” will appear in a future issue of Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, but is available online from 10 January. Given the recent Suffolk serial killings of prostitutes in the UK, it’s a timely publication.

If you or your institution have a subscription to BTCI the article is of course free. The rest of us have to pay for access (follow the links for more details).


Micol Levi-Minzi and Maria Shields (in press, 2007). Serial Sexual Murderers and Prostitutes as Their Victims: Difficulty Profiling Perpetrators and Victim Vulnerability as Illustrated by the Green River Case. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/mhl021

Abstract: Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer, is the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, preying upon the most vulnerable of victims: prostitutes. This paper examines the difficulty experienced by law enforcement officials when trying to develop the profile of a serial sexual murderer, as illustrated by the Green River case. The lives and experiences of prostitutes are examined to establish their level of susceptibility to crime while also exploring the customers who frequent them. A summary of current research on criminal profiling is analyzed in conjunction to the Green River case with the goal of obtaining an understanding of the drives and motivations behind these crimes. In addition, the forensic and ethical implications of the case are discussed. (c) Oxford University Press

Arrest deters ‘johns’ from further prostitution activity

According to new research, men arrested for buying sex from prostitutes are much less likely to continue using prostitutes than clients who are not arrested. From the Public Library of Science press release (20 Dec):

The study, published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, was carried out by a team of researchers led by Devon D. Brewer, director of the research firm Interdisciplinary Scientific Research. “Our findings are unexpected, because previous studies of youth indicated that arrest had no effect on, or even increased, their delinquent and criminal behavior,” Brewer said.

You can access the whole article via the PLOS-ONE site, and it’s worth reading in full if you are interested in the behaviours of clients of prostitutes or recidivism more generally. From the abstract:

[Brewer et al. compared] the incidence of arrest for clients of prostitutes first detected through public health surveillance with the incidence of rearrest for clients first detected by police arrest. Although these sets of clients were demographically and behaviorally similar, arrest reduced the likelihood of a subsequent arrest by approximately 70%.

In the body of the paper the authors go on to explain that, according to their analyses, this result was probably not caused by arrested clients simply moving to other jurisdictions. Another interesting finding is that

[…] convicted clients who attended ‘john school’ (a program where clients are presented with information on the harms of prostitution to prostitutes, communities, and clients) following a court order […] had a similar patronizing reconviction rate as temporally-matched convicted clients who were not ordered to attend but were apparently otherwise similar.

However, the authors also note that “specific deterrence probably has a limited impact on the overall prevalence of clients as we estimate that only 7–18% of clients in a community are ever arrested for patronizing over periods as long as 5 years”. They note that “the introduction of a law against patronizing in Sweden and enforcement of it appears to have dramatically reduced street prostitution”, implying that more law enforcement effort in arresting kerb crawlers may reduce the level of street prostitution.

News round-up, week ending 28 April 06

Some news items that caught my eye this week:

Eyewitnesses: Malcolm Gladwell (26 Apr) uses a recent case (an allegation of rape against members of the Duke University Lacrosse team) to make some points about the fallibility of eyewitnesses, particularly in cross-racial identifications:

[…]the Duke case is an example of another, even more problematic aspect of eyewitness identifications, and that is that we aren’t particular good at making them across races. There is a huge amount of psychological research in their area, pioneered by Roy Malpass at the University of Texas at El Paso. A few years ago, John Brigham and Christian Meissner did a big meta-analysis of all of the cross-racial identification studies and concluded that given the task of picking someone out of a lineup, the average person is something like 1.4 times more likely to correctly identify an own-race face than a different-race face, and 1.6 times more likely to incorrectly identify a different race face. These are not trivial error rates. Clearly we need to treat cross-racial identifications with a special level of caution.

Rehabilitation of prisoners: Offenders’ anger control classes help make some more dangerous, according to The Guardian (24 Apr).

[…] Home Office instructions sent to the probation service say that anger management courses are counterproductive and actually help violent offenders who make premeditated attacks to manipulate the situation to their advantage.[…] A Home Office spokesman said that anger management courses were effective at teaching self-management techniques. However, some offenders did not engage in violent behaviour because of anger. “They use violence as a means to achieve a specific goal, for example to intimidate a victim during the course of a robbery, or the imposition of will on a partner in … domestic violence. There are other interventions and therapies that address the root causes of this instrumental violence (such as lack of empathy) which might be more beneficial to these individuals when delivered as part of a risk management package.”

Prostitution: Men who knowingly have sex with trafficked prostitutes will be prosecuted for rape as part of a police crackdown, reports the Guardian (25 Apr).

South Yorkshire deputy chief constable Grahame Maxwell, Pentameter’s programme director, said: “Trafficked women are being forced to work through fear and intimidation. Men who act as their clients risk being charged with rape.”

Criminal aetiology: Also in the Guardian (25 Apr), a report on a new study on criminal careers, suggesting that criminal mentors are crucial. The study’s authors, Carlo Morselli and Pierre Tremblay, of the Université de Montréal, and Bill McCarthy, of the University of California at Davis, examined the lives of 268 prison inmates in Quebec.

They offer up a nugget from Indiana University criminologist Edwin H Sutherland’s 1937 book The Professional Thief, By a Professional Thief. “Any man who hits the big-time in crime, somewhere or other along the road, became associated with a big-timer who picked him up and educated him,” the thief told Sutherland, adding that: “No one ever crashed the big rackets without education in this line.”

  • Reference: Morselli, C., Tremblay, P. and McCarthy, B. (2006). Mentors and Criminal Achievement. Criminology 44(1). Follow the link for access to the free PDF download.

Deception: Yet more depressing news about the use of voice stress analysers, this time reported in the Stamford Advocate,(26 Apr).

Norwalk police used a lie detector that many scientists say is inaccurate to draw confessions from at least two men in the 2004 murder of a cab driver.[…] Norwalk’s police department is one of about 1,400 police departments and government agencies in the country that own the controversial voice stress analyzer, according to the Web site for the National Institute for Truth Verification, manufacturer of the machine.

Juries: Potential Jurors May Lie to Gain Seats on Important Cases, according to the American Bar Association eReport (14 Apr).

Are “stealth jurors” infiltrating jury pools, lying on questionnaires and during voir dire to land seats on high-profile cases for bragging rights? […] Several other jury experts agree that jurors sometimes lie or omit key information, but they say most do so for other, more innocent reasons. The jurors are embarrassed and don’t want to speak up about sensitive issues in a room full of strangers. But Anthony says his research shows that between 15 percent and 18 percent of potential jurors have a distinctly biased mindset, one that views jury service as a way to comment on or influence the outcomes of trials. This is a stark contrast from the traditional view of jury service as a civic responsibility, Anthony says.

The Courier-Journal (23 April) runs a story about what happens when jurors are allowed to ask questions during trials:

[…] critics, including some judges, say a slew of questions from the jury can cause difficulties. “Everybody becomes Perry Mason, and that becomes a problem because all you are doing is answering questions,” most of them irrelevant, said Circuit Judge Geoffrey Morris.

Juvenile sex offenders: The dangers of including juvenile sex offenders in online sex offender registries is highlighted by the Delaware News Journal (22 Apr)

Juveniles make up a third of the people charged with child sexual abuse in Delaware and nationwide. If convicted, their names, addresses, pictures, birthdays and sometimes schools can be included on the state’s sex-offender registry. […]The easy, online availability of juveniles’ personal information worries their families and counselors, especially in light of the slayings of two adult sex offenders in Maine last weekend. Police say Stephen Marshall of Nova Scotia, Canada, looked up 34 sex offenders before shooting two of them with a .45-caliber handgun. Marshall killed himself after police cornered him on a bus in Boston.

Quick news items for week ending 25 February

Some news items that caught my eye this week:

Men urged to report brothels using trafficked women (The Guardian Feb 22). See also: ACPO press release

The move is part of Operation Pentameter – a major initiative to tackle human trafficking which involves law enforcement agencies and the travel industry throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Councils fund ‘panic rooms’ for domestic violence victims (The Guardian Feb 22).

[…] Any victim of domestic violence in a participating council area can apply for a panic room to be installed. But some domestic violence campaigning groups say women are being strong-armed into accepting the additional security measures to cut councils’ bills for rehousing them.

Experts focus on teen criminal minds ( (New Jersey), Feb 18)

[…Child psychologist Lawrence Steinberg] a Temple University psychology professor […] is compiling the data from a behavioral study of more than 900 subjects ages 10 to 30 […] A better understanding of the factors that make the difference between youthful crime as a phase versus youthful crime that is the beginning of a life of crime could result in wiser handling of these youngsters, he said.

Forensic scientists take the spotlight thanks to crime dramas’ popularity (Seattle Times, Feb 19)

[…] The American Academy of Forensic Scientists rolls into town with a glamorous flourish […T]he public are becoming more savvy about technology and science from watching the shows — but some are also developing unrealistic expectations […] One of the biggest effects is showing up in the legal system […].

Looking For A Few Good Snitches – America’s inner cities are ruled by a brutal code of silence. How one city is fighting to crack it (Time Magazine, Feb 19)

[…] Despite a dip in 2004, national homicide rates have increased since 2000, and in some towns it is as difficult as ever to prosecute shootings and murders. […] Whether out of fear or a deep allegiance to the code of silence, witnesses simply aren’t talking, and cities are increasingly exerting their own pressure on no-show witnesses.

Questions on video assisting justice (Baltimore Sun, Feb 20)

[…] Overall, police departments are losing their aversion to videotaping, said Thomas P. Sullivan, an attorney and former co-chairman of a commission on capital punishment appointed by then-Illinois Gov. George Ryan. […] Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law […] said videotaped interrogations generally make police cases stronger, if the interrogations are conducted properly, without “trickery and browbeating.”

Lineup process rankles DAs – They say question unsettles witnesses ( (North Carolina), Feb 22)

When eyewitnesses pick a crime suspect out of a photo lineup, the police are supposed to ask them how confident they are that they’ve made the right choice. Now some prosecutors say they don’t want officers to do that.

Is self-defense law vigilante justice? Some say proposed laws can help deter gun violence. Others worry about deadly confrontations. (Christian Science Monitor, Feb 24)

[…]. First enacted in Florida last year, “Stand Your Ground” bills are now being considered in 21 states […]. These new measures would push the boundaries beyond the self-defense measures already on the books.

A controversial new self-help guide offers advice to sex workers on surviving life in red light districts

The Guardian, November 9, 2005

Official statistics show that 60 prostitutes have been murdered in the UK on the last 10 years. […] Today, a new initiative sees the launch of The Safe Exit Handbook, a massive directory and self-help tome that hopes to get women out of prostitution. The handbook gives matter-of-fact advice about dealing with the multiple problems faced by women selling sex, such as violence at the hands of customers and pimps, drug addiction, homelessness and physical and mental illness. It offers practical help on quitting prostitution and finding a safe place to live.