Nassau County, NY

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Nassau County is a suburban county on Long Island immediately east of New York City, with a population of roughly 1.35 million.  Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as substantial and longstanding problems in many areas of Long Island.  The area has hosted high-end, international prostitution or “escort” services, as well as low-level local and regional operations facilitated by Craigslist and Backpage (and other websites), and the laundering of money gained through prostitution and sex trafficking.   Problems associated with prostitution throughout both Nassau and neighboring Suffolk County include child sex trafficking, as well as at least two serial killers and possibly single-victim murderers who specifically targeted prostituted women. At least 10 prostituted women were murdered in the county on Long Island in the 2000s alone.

In an effort to reduce the demand for prostitution in the area, the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department has conducted both street-level and web-based stings. Beginning in 2007, the police began using Craigslist and Backpage.com for web-based reverse stings.  In early June 2013, a month-long set of web-based operations using Backpage.com resulted in the arrest of 104 men, whose names were publicized by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office in a shaming effort entitled, “Flush the Johns.”

In June 2014, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office announced that they had partnered with human trafficking advocacy groups The Safe Center LI and Sanctuary for Families to establish “a program designed to educate defendants charged with prostitution-related offenses how demand fuels the sex trade and impacts human trafficking overall.” The two-hour program, entitled The Real Effects of Sale, Exploitation, and Trafficking Program (or RESET), consists of a one-day class that “educates defendants about the impact of demand on human trafficking, the correlation between child sexual abuse and prostitution, the background of women who are forced into prostitution, and the role the john plays in the victimization of prostitutes.” The course will be made available to johns recently charged and/or convicted of the misdemeanor charge of patronizing a prostitute. Johns who successfully complete the program, pay a “tuition” fee, and complete 35 hours of community service may have their charges reduced to disorderly conduct (a non-criminal violation). At present, only first time offenders are eligible to participate. According to media reports, the NCDA began considering a “john school” in early 2014; NCDA representatives reportedly inquired about the program in Brooklyn, NY in their fact-finding. In a press release, District Attorney Kathleen Rice stated:

“Prostitution is not a victimless crime and johns play an integral role in an industry full of victimization and violence. This program is another step in an ongoing and multipronged strategy of aggressive enforcement, public awareness, and innovative defendant education. We won’t be backing down from making cases that we know will save lives.”

In September 2014, Newsday reported that at least 80 of the 104 men arrested during the “Flush the Johns” campaign had pled guilty “to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct, a violation, which falls short of being a crime and does not show up on criminal records,” and were given mandatory community service and required to complete the two-hour course described above.

Key Partners

  • Nassau County Sheriff’s Department
  • Nassau County District Attorney’s Office
  • Safe Center LI
  • Sanctuary for Families

Key Sources

 

 

State New York
Type County
Population 1353061
Location
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