In at least 140 U.S. cities and counties, arrested sex buyers can be ordered to perform community service as a condition of a diversion procedure or a sentence. Service might include such activities as cleaning streets where prostitution is known to occur. For most people sentenced on charges related buying sex from adults, community service obligations range from four to 250 hours and are coupled with other sanctions such as fines, fees, shaming, probation, and/or completion of “john school” education or treatment programs. For those arrested for buying sex with minors, the charges are for more serious felony-level offenses, and diversion options are usually not applicable (although fines, fees, shaming and community service may be applied as conditions of sentences, and in addition to terms of incarceration).
To learn more about this intervention, access the resources provided below, or use our map to see where this practice is in use.
Overview of Community Service for Arrested Sex Buyers in the U.S.
- Community Service Overview from National Assessment (PDF, 39 KB)
Study Finds 10 Percent of Sex Buyers Sentenced to Community Service in Denver
- Morris et al. (2012). Prostitution and Denver’s Criminal Justice System: Who Pays? (PDF, 939KB) Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking.
Municipal Ordinance on Prostitution Authorizing Community Service as Punishment
- Denver, CO: City and County of Denver Municipal Code (DOCX, 14.8KB)
News Reports Addressing Community Service for Sex Buyers
- Aurora, IL:
- New York, NY:
- Rochester, NY:
- Windsor Locks, CT: