In covering U.S. sex work issues, I read about a lot of stupid anti-prostitution initiatives. But the latest from Cincinnati, Ohio, may just take the stupid cake. Apparently, cops there don't think the good citizens of Cincy need to actually use certain major thoroughfares—or, if they do, too bad. There is prostitution to deter, and if that means literally barricading off roads, so be it.
The barricades, which police insist will be up for "less than three months," went up this week at three spots on McMicken Avenue, near the University of Cincinnati. Police say previous efforts and "community applied pressure" have not been enough to curb prostitution on the McMicken corridor, and hence desperate measures are warranted.
From The Cincinnati Enquirer:
A Jan. 9 prostitution-related homicide underscored the need for immediate action, said District 1 Capt. Michael John.
… After the homicide, officers began walking the area and interviewed the women, who work the street, John said. He said officers tried to talk to them about getting out of prostitution.
It doesn't sound like they were very successful, which would imply that the estimated 70- to 80-women regularly working the area are actually choosing to do so. Naturally, police efforts to stop them are being referred to as the McMicken PATH—that's "People Against Trafficking Humans" (emphasis mine)—Project.
Cincinnati is also currently considering plans to publish the names of people convicted of prostitution-related offenses (through either press releases sent to media outlets or on the city's government access TV channel), to notify offender's spouses of prostitution-related arrests, to create a court specifically for prostitution offenses, to offer a "john school" as an alternative punishment for those arrested (no word on exactly what that would entail), and to increase fines for prostitution offenses. However, for now, the city is settling for inconveniencing its populace and driving more Johns to the Backpage.com ads.
In a statement, the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) promised that the anti-prostitution barricades will "interrupt the cruising cycle of those offenders frequenting the area for the purpose of engaging the prostitutes" and "assist stakeholders in taking ownership of the McMicken corridor." While CPD "recognizes this temporary measure may serve as an inconvenience to some," the efforts will ultimately "increase quality of life for all," it says.