In order combat sex trafficking, a city in California is launching a new website to "pimp-shame" suspected criminals.
The Oakland Police Department unveiled a new website which provides details about alleged pimps including their names, mug shots, city of residence and more. Officials said the measure is necessary because Oakland is a major center for sex trafficking. Via Time:
Lieutenant Kevin Wiley oversees the Department's human trafficking operations and describes Oakland as "the hub of the West for child prostitution." Oakland and eastern counterpart Atlanta, he says, tend to be entry points into "the circuit," a human trafficking ring that cycles victims around the country.
While it may seem controversial to publicly display individuals' photos alongside abhorred crimes before they've been convicted, Wiley emphasizes that at the arrest stage, the information is already a public record. The Department, he says, waits until the Alameda County District Attorney has investigated and charged the individuals before brandishing their likenesses on the Internet.
The website also includes a "purchasers" section detailing information about suspected johns, which is a tactic that has been utilized in the past by many other cities. A disclaimer on the website indicates the people featured on the website "are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law." According to the Contra Costa Times, other cities in the region have similar sites:
Richmond and Sacramento police also post pictures of those arrested on suspicion of pimping and soliciting — without charges being filed. Fresno police post pictures of those arrested who have also been charged, like Oakland is doing, officials said.
It is hoped that knowing their actions could result in public exposure will "deter (customers and pimps) from patronizing acts of prostitution or providing and profiting from prostitution," [Officer Frank Bonifacio] said.
According to SFGate, the measure is just the latest in a string of efforts aimed at cracking down on sex trafficking:
Last week, Oakland police, the district attorney's office and the FBI announced the results of a sex trafficking sweep that led to the rescue of six teens. The FBI shut down myredbook.com, a website that catered to prostitutes and johns, and arrested the two alleged operators.
Last month, Alameda County prosecutors charged 19 people in a crackdown on massage parlors investigators said were fronts for prostitution. And at Oakland International Airport in April, workers were recently trained on how to spot victims of child sex trafficking.
It's not the first time Oakland has tried such a method. As Time points out, the "Operation Shame" campaign in 2005 used images of johns on public billboards (as seen in the photo above.)
Image via AP Images.