Scranton, Pa

Prostituted Person Arrested in Northampton County

Posted: May 5, 2017

If you want to affect an industry, any economist will advise you to focus on demand. This simple principle applies to the commercial sex industry as well. Demand-driven law enforcement tactics can reduce the incidents of commercial sexual exploitation in a community. Despite a trend toward such tactics, outdated approaches to policing commercial sex are still used by members of law enforcement throughout the country.

For instance, a Northampton County resident, Linda Michelson, was recently arrested by Lehigh Township police as part of an operation targeting prostitution. According to a news report, police were notified by informants that on occasion several people would come and go from the prostituted woman’s residence. To disrupt this suspected prostitution activity, police searched for Michelson online, found advertisements and had an undercover officer arrange to meet the woman at her residence.

Michelson was subsequently arrested on April 26, 2017 and charged with prostitution, a misdemeanor in the third degree. It is unclear whether police secured more than one arrest as a result of this prostitution sting “operation”. Buying sex is a crime in Pennsylvania and carries equal penalties as selling sex. Had the police apprehended the suspicious people allegedly visiting the prostituted person and utilized demand-drive tactics during the investigation, they may have been able to eradicate commercial sex from this neighborhood. Instead, if those people were in fact buying sex from the prostituted woman in this case, it is probable they will continue to buy sex elsewhere in the community.

The CSE Institute advocates for law enforcement methods that target the real perpetrators and protect victims of commercial sexual exploitation. If we aim to end commercial sexual exploitation, we must resolve to go after demand.

All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.

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