U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Navigating Force and Choice: Experiences in the New York City Sex Trade and the Criminal Justice System's Response

NCJ Number
Elise White; Rachel Swaner; Emily Genetta; Suvi Hynynen Lambson; Janell Johnson Dash; Isaac Sederbaum; Ariel Wolf
Date Published
December 2017
111 pages
This is a report on a study that provides an evidence-based foundation for developing suitable policies and interventions for adults in the sex trade in New York City.
The study conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 316 New York City adults who exchanged sex for money or other benefits. Information was obtained on their life histories, involvement in the sex trade, sex trafficking, and criminal justice involvement. The study also obtained the perspectives and policy recommendations of 28 criminal justice policymakers, practitioners, and community representatives affiliated with New York City's Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs). These courts were established in 2013 to hear the cases of defendants charged with loitering for the purposes of prostitution, prostitution, prostitution in a school zone, and unlicensed massage. The HTICs aim to mitigate the effects of involvement in the criminal justice system by linking defendants with services instead of processing them under standard adjudication and conviction procedures. Policy recommendations are presented in this report as suggested by those in the city's sex trade and HTIC policymakers, practitioners, and social-service providers. The most common recommendation from the adults in the sex trade was the decriminalization of prostitution. This was echoed by those involved in HTIC operations. As interim steps, it was proposed that law enforcement officers stop arresting people for the offense of "loitering for prostitution" and that prosecutors offer immediate sealing of cases where trafficking is demonstrated and/or defendants complete their mandates. Other recommendations pertain to the "pressing needs" of prostitutes, the availability of social services, and interagency collaboration. 26 references and appended tables and interview questionnaires