A Review of the Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database
Report 22-10, December 2022
- Prostitution is treated as a minor offense in Florida and nationally, with arrest rates declining significantly since 2000. During the same period, the focus of policymakers has shifted to controlling commercial sex trafficking and its links to prostitution. To reduce demand for prostitution, many jurisdictions employ tactics aimed at sex buyers. These tactics include the use of public shaming to deter would-be sex buyers and discourage reoffending.
- Several provisions in Florida statutes criminalize prostitution and are variously aimed at prostitutes, sex buyers, and sex distributors. One statutory subsection (s. 796.07(2)(f), Florida Statutes) makes it unlawful to solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation. One of the more severe consequences for convictions of this subsection is being added to the Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database.
- OPPAGA’s review of the database found that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) implementation was a multi-step process involving delays in individuals appearing in the database. Some characteristics of the database limit its effectiveness as a strategy to reduce demand for prostitution. These characteristics include a lack of awareness of the database by some members of the criminal justice community and the limited information that it provides.
- The Legislature may consider several options regarding the future of the database. The Legislature could eliminate the database due to its characteristics, which may limit effectiveness, by taking no action to prevent its statutory repeal January 1, 2024. Alternatively, the Legislature and FDLE could make improvements to the database, such as expanding the information included, and adding crimes that will trigger inclusion in the database. In either event, the Legislature may wish to consider other statutory changes that could reduce the demand for prostitution by focusing on sex buyers. These changes include increasing the penalty for a first offense to a felony, condensing and clarifying current statutory subsections, and taking additional steps to change the perception of prostitutes from criminals to victims of coerced commercial sex and to criminalize those who purchase sex.
prostitution, human trafficking, sex buyers, solicitation, Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database, commercial sex trafficking, public shaming, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, demand for prostitution