Shame of the Windy City

The Chicago Sun-Times has an article about the Chicago Police Department’s “new effort to decrease demand for prostitution citywide with the threat of online humiliation.” That means that people who are arrested on prostitution-related charges will have their names, addresses, and mugshots posted on a Chicago Police website.

A few thoughts:

  • The site is called Prostitution Patron Arrests and seems to feature mostly just the alleged johns, not too many prostitutes or pimps.
  • The site is really slow, which I guess means I’m not the only one checking it out.
  • This isn’t really a new effort. The Chicago Police Department has had these arrests online before.
  • There’s a cover-your-ass note that “These individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” I guess waiting until they are actually convicted would be too much work.
  • Why would someone from Cicero have to come to Chicago for a hooker?
  • I don’t know anybody on the list. I’d been hoping for some good scandle.

I guess what pisses me off about this website is the idea that it is somehow the Police Department’s job to humiliate people in front of their friends, coworkers, and family. I especially love this part of the justification:

And despite the public humiliation factor, Daley said the city’s effort is built on compassion for victims—starting with the prostitutes themselves—some 25,000 women selling sex in Chicago over the course of a year.

“Most [prostitutes] were victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence from a very young age,” Daley said. “Once they become prostitutes … they spend their lives surrounded by criminals and drugs and vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases. It’s a terrible life.”

Not only that, but some dickhead wants to throw them in a cage, take some money from them, and publish their names and photographs on a website!

On a related topic, another article in the same issue of the Sun-Times recounts how former Chicago Police Sgt. Larry Hargrove was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, narcotics, and robbery charges. As embarassing as a prostitution-related arrest would be for an ordinary citizen, I imagine that a conviction on a list of felony charges like that must be ten times as humiliating for a police officer. Imagine having to explain that to your fellow officers, not to mention your family and friends. Strangely, I can find no mention of his conviction anywhere on chicagopolice.org or the city’s web site.

Update: Kerry Howley at Reason picks up the story. Her title alone is worth a click.

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