Effort to curb prostitution by arresting the customers

Effort to hold both the people buying and the people selling sex accountable

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said this week the office would fight prostitution by holding customers accountable. Residents told 22News they were shocked incidents of prostitution and human trafficking could be taking place in western Massachusetts.

“I’m shocked, I’m completely shocked, especially from such a quote un-quote sleepy town,” said Valerie Yanford of Northampton. Yanford said she thinks the people selling sex and the people buying it should face the same punishment; “Thats a crime, it should be held accountable.”

Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney told 22News the department has decreased demand for prostitutes in Springfield by arresting and charging the customers. “We have reverse stings all the time. Where we have female undercover police officers posing as prostitutes, and when potential johns come up to them and offer them money for sex, then we arrest them just like we would a prostitute.”

Legal experts said those arrested for soliciting sex aren’t likely to repeat the offense, and though those seeking out sex are arrested less often, their penalties can be harsher. “Massachusetts laws are slightly tougher on johns than the actual person charged with prostitution. In terms of jail time can be longer, the fines stronger, against johns,” said Attorney James B. Winston.

Lawyers told 22News people can be charged with “soliciting prostitution” and the fines for trying to pay for sex can start at $500.

Related Human Trafficking Coverage: