West Palm Beach's Possible Plan to Battle Prostitution: Print a Catalog of Customers

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West Palm Beach has a prostitution problem -- its city ordinance to keep hookers off street corners has been deemed unconstitutional by two courts, and the city was sued the last time it published the names of men soliciting prostitutes in a local paper.

At last night's work session with West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and the city commissioners, City Attorney Claudia McKenna raised two alternatives to combat prostitution: Create "prostitute exclusion zones," or go back to publishing the names of johns on the city's website or in print.

The commissioners tossed around the idea of putting not only the names of prostitute-renters in print but also their mug shots and addresses.

"I like the statement we'd be making," Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell told the Palm Beach Post. "It would be making the public more aware that we're paying attention to this problem."

West Palm Beach Police Chief Delsa Bush told the commission she was opposed to the idea, worried about the johns' wives and children being hurt by the public embarrassment.

McKenna was also apparently concerned that non-English-speaking folks wouldn't understand the john catalog if it wasn't printed in multiple languages, according to the Post.

The other problem the city faces with publishing the names of their prostitute-soliciting dudes is what happened the last time it tried it.

Back in 1992, West Palm Beach took out two $1,200 ads in the Post, according to the paper, leading to a lawsuit against the city by a man acquitted of charges that was settled for $10,000.

Regardless, if the city decides to print its john catalog with addresses and mug shots, don't be surprised if West Palm Beach gets more door-to-door saleswomen.

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