Sex Workers Face Convictions, But Their Patrons Don’t: Chicago Reporter

Between 2008 and 2011, Cook County attorneys charged only three "Johns" with a felony


There is one element in the dark world of human trafficking, beyond the prostitutes and the pimps who control them, which is often ignored or overlooked: The patrons -- solicitors --of these sex workers, commonly known as "Johns."

Without these patrons’ demand for prostitutes and sex services, the business of human trafficking would likely disappear.

But despite efforts such as "End Demand Illinois," a local campaign to shift the focus and "guilt" of prostitution from the women to the men who solicit them, sex workers, and not their patrons, "are bearing the brunt of prostitution-related felony charges in Illinois," according to a recent analysis by The Chicago Reporter.

The Reporter, an NBC Chicago partner publication, looked at data from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office which shows that prostitution-related felonies continue to focus, almost exclusively, on sex workers, and not their patrons. In fact, convictions of prostitutes (and not Johns) made up 97 percent of the 1,200+ prostitution-related felony convictions in Cook County between 2008 and 2011.

In those four years, Cook County attorneys convicted only three patrons with a felony, according to The Reporter’s analysis.

Details of The Chicago Reporter’s study, along with a profile of a former sex worker who is now facing a variety of challenges as she tries to get her life together after prostitution, can be found in the article "Escorted to Jail" on

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