John school

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John school is a form of educational intervention aimed at clients of prostitutes, who are informally known as 'johns' in North America. John schools are usually a diversion program for people - almost exclusively men - arrested for soliciting the services of a prostitute, or another related offense. This often acts as an alternative to criminal prosecutions. However, in some jurisdictions, courts may sentence men to attend a john school program as a condition of probation.

Whether the John school is a diversion program or a sentencing condition, the client will often pay a fee to enroll. The fee frequently covers the cost of the program and sometimes contributes to programs to aid prostitutes, or community projects within red light districts. John schools often last for one day. Their focus is often on the experiences and harms of prostitution, such as the violence associated with prostitution, the sexually transmitted disease risks of prostitution, and the effects of prostitution on families and communities.[1][2]

The first comprehensive john school program was started in San Francisco in 1995 by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and Norma Hotaling and was known as the First Offender Prostitution Program.[3] First time male offenders who volunteer for the program are required to attend an eight-hour seminar on the negative consequences of prostitution of all types on neighborhoods, the Criminal Justice System, and the prostitutes themselves, and face the possibility of a jail sentence if they refuse. In the first 12 years of the still ongoing program, now called the First Offender Prostitution Program, the recidivism rate amongst offenders was reduced from 8% to less than 5%. Between 1981 and 2007, 48 john schools had opened in the United States.[4]

A 2009 audit of the first john school in San Francisco conducted by the City's budget analysis, faults the program with ill-defined goals and no way to determine its effectiveness. Despite being touted as a national model that comes at no cost to taxpayers, the audit said the program didn't cover its expenses in each of the last five years, leading to a $270,000 shortfall.[5]

John schools have been established across the United States, in Canada, South Korea and in the United Kingdom. More than 15 John schools have emerged in the United Kingdom since the first British john school in Leeds which was led by Julie Bindel and opened in 1998.[6] As the term 'john' is rarely used in the United Kingdom, john schools are referred to by several different names including kerb-crawling rehabilitation schemes or kerb-crawling awareness schemes.[7] The proceeds from a john school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada finance an eight-week life skills-based course for prostitutes run through Streetlight Support Services.[8]


  1. ^ "John School Helps Break the Cycle of Prostitution" by Sharon Boddy, Peace and Environment News, November 1998.
  2. ^ "School for Johns" Archived 2007-09-18 at the Wayback Machine by Aina Hunter, Village Voice, May 10, 2005.
  3. ^ May, Meredith (20 December 2008). "Norma Hotaling dies - fought prostitution SAN FRANCISCO Former homeless prostitute's programs have been lauded, imitated around the country". SFGate. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Final Report on the Evaluation of the First Offender Prostitution Program, written by Michael Shiveley et al" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  5. ^ "Audit faults S.F. D.A.'s prostitution program". Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Street fighters". London: The Guardian, August 17, 1999. August 17, 1999. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  7. ^ "Re-educating the kerb-crawler". Northumbria Centre for Offenders and Offending Blog. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  8. ^ Paul Nathanson; Katherine K. Young (2006). Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 166. ISBN 077355999X.

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