Follow up: “Mug Shots: The Public Shaming of Johns”

We received great feedback about our first “Johns” mug shots post. We wanted to  directly respond to issues/suggestions/comments people raised.

Molly commented:

This finding is very interesting! I teach a drugs and society class, and one of the arguments I make is that, though drug arrests may be clustered in certain neighborhoods, the people buying drugs come from all over the city. Certain neighborhoods (usually poor, minority) take the brunt of the crime and police surveillance, even though those who are using may live anywhere in the city. I think your data reflect this same trend.

This is an astute observation. Certain neighborhoods do bear the brunt of illegal activities.  Recently the RedEye (a local daily newspaper published by the Chicago Tribune) released a map of homicides in Chicago from January to the end of May 2012. If you compare this map to the map from our previous post, you can see that prostitution, compared to homicides, is even more geographically concentrated. Due to the market and geographic nature of street-level prostitution, certain parts of certain neighborhoods bear the brunt of both the occurrence and/or the enforcement of prostitution.

Darby Hickey of Best Practices Policy Project suggested that we rephrase our description of sex in our previous post. She said the term “biological men” may offend many in the trans community. We definitely don’t want to be offensive and have made changes to the previous post. What we (perhaps poorly) were trying say was that the CPD posts mug shots of individuals whom they classify as “male.”

Anonymous commented offline that we should probably explain a bit more about the social geography of Chicago for those who are unfamiliar with the city.

From our post: “Not surprisingly, most arrests occur on the West and South Sides.

The far West and South Sides are the most impoverished areas of Chicago. The downtown and North Side are more economically advantaged.

Anonymous also wondered why we found the following surprising.

From our post: “While the vast majority of these arrests are for street-based prostitution, one of the more interesting (surprising?) findings is the extreme street-nature of the arrests. Instead of being clustered in neighborhoods, they appear to follow major streets in Chicago, often crossing several neighborhoods. (The exception to this is the cluster around the Englewood and Auburn Gresham neighborhoods.)

Like many urban areas, Chicago is all about the neighborhood—only a few blocks makes a huge difference in housing prices, crime, etc. We expected to find arrests clustered in the more impoverished (or “bad”) neighborhoods, as occurred in the Englewood area (known as one of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods with the highest crime). In other words, we expected to see clusters. Instead, arrests occur along major streets—streets that often cross several neighborhoods. They don’t appear to be restricted to the most impoverished areas but rather along major streets, which is reasonable since these arrests are mostly for street-based prostitution.

Thanks to all who responded. Keep your comments coming.

Also, be sure to keep following our blog where we’ll continue to publish many more interesting findings from these data.


Author: Rachel Lovell

Rachel Lovell is the Senior Research Methodologist at the SSRC where she is responsible for designing, developing, implementing, and analyzing empirical research studies generated within SSRC and also by faculty researchers affiliated with SSRC. Rachel received her Ph.D. in sociology from The Ohio State University in 2007. Her more recent research interests include women, public health, and sex work.

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