Analyzing Prostitution Arrests in New York State
Fair and just treatment for all is a hallmark of the American democratic process. Yet, as we well know, theory rarely translates neatly into practice. This is especially true in a complex legal system where different policies and applications of those policies can lead to inequalities. Using data from the New York State Criminal Justice Department from 2003-2013, the team at SumAll.org identified one such disparity in prostitution-related offenses: a gender disparity in sentence severity.
There are years worth of data with historical information on prostitution related crimes, and within them stories of how these crimes are treated within the judicial system. In addition, there is a need to provide better resources that can help communicate these stories and trends to the general public.
SumAll was provided with nine years of prostitution arrests data from the New York State Criminal Justice Department , from 2005-2013*. Using this data, a dashboard was created to illustrate trends in arrests and convictions for prostitution related crimes.
* A portion of the cases in 2013 are still pending and figures are likely to change.
SumAll investigated several disturbing trends with the dashboard relating to the inequalities of how prostitution related crimes are convicted and sentenced, but also how men and women are impacted differently in the system.
Of those arrested for prostitution, promoting, patronizing and loitering for prostitution, between 42%-86% were convicted of any charge between 2005 and 2012. When looking at the rates for those convicted of the crime that they were arrested for, conviction rates for prostitution, promoting and loitering ranged between 23%-68%. In contrast, only 3%-7% of those arrested for patronizing prostitution were actually convicted of that charge, with the vast majority being downgraded to disorderly conduct.
Women are most often arrested for prostitution and loitering for prostitution while men are most often arrested for patronizing prostitution. Of those arrested for prostitution, 50% of convictions were for prostitution and 40% for disorderly conduct. However of those arrested for patronizing, only 8% of convictions were for patronizing and 89% were for disorderly conduct.
In addition to differences in charges between genders, the differences in sentencing was also surprising. While the proportion of men and women convicted of a prostitution related crime were relatively equal, men made up 90% of those sentenced to fines and women made up 74% of jail time.
The Prostitution Arrests Dashboard for New York State was shared at the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition in February 2014 and has served as a valuable resource for those who are involved with investigating the sex trade and human trafficking fields.