There is a surprisingly high prevalence of police officers demanding sex from prostitutes in return for avoiding arrest. For prostitutes who do not work with pimps (and thus are working the streets), roughly three percent of all their tricks are freebies given to police.That statistic reminds me of a post about snitching on Grits in 2005, where an officer accused of having sex with prostitutes who were his confidential informants said that relationships as police snitches "are what keep escort services in business."
The study Berman referenced also estimates arrest and imprisonment rates for prostitution in Chicago:
We estimate that prostitutes are officially arrested only once per 450 tricks, with johns arrested even less frequently. Punishment conditional on arrest is limited — roughly 1 in 10 prostitute arrests leads to a prison sentence, with a mean sentence length of 1.2 years among that group.So for a pros with no pimp, if it's true that 3% of tricks are with police in exchange for avoiding arrest, then for every 450 tricks, a prostitute will be arrested once and have sex with an officer 14 times! For every prison term given to a Chicago prostitute, following these estimates, a prostitute would have had sex with police officers 135 times! It would be difficult given that personal background, while sitting out your 1.2 years in prison, not to view the criminal justice system as indulging in blatant, enormous hypocrisy.
In practice, prostitution is "regulated" in Chicago but extralegally and informally. The "tax" paid is not money to the government but sex to beat cops in exchange for not enforcing the law - essentially it sounds like a protection racket perpetrated by law enforcers, if the study's figures are accurate.
Those are some eye popping estimates, though the research only examined Chicago. I wonder if similar ratios hold up in other jurisdictions?
In the same post, Doc Berman pointed to another batch of research on prostitution that listed a dozen things one must understand to think about prostitution. I found the list incomplete and ideologically skewed, and offered some satirical additions in the comments.
RELATED: From the Miami Herald, "Internet escort sites rarely policed." From AP, "Prostitution advances in a wired world." From Australia, "Brothel madam was police informant," Samar O'Shea at The Huffington Post asks "Is it time to legalize prostitution yet?" And giving the story an international flair, This is London informs us that the Duke of Westminster allegedly was client #6 among the ten clients discovered in the wiretap that nabbed Gov. Spitzer. CNN has an interview with the young lady in question.