Second-time johns to have photos made public on West Palm Beach web site in anti-prostitution effort

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The city is bringing back public shaming to deter prostitution.

The city commission agreed Monday to post booking photos of johns arrested for soliciting prostitutes on the city's web site.

West Palm Beach received national attention in the 1990s when it enacted a similar program, but it cost the city a $10,000 settlement after a man whose name was printed was acquitted and sued the city.

This time, West Palm Beach will only post the photos of johns who have been arrested more than once.

Mayor Jeri Muoio agreed not to post the photos of first-time offenders after attending a Prostitution Impact Prevention Education course. The PIPE class is based in West Palm Beach, and seeks to educate first time offenders.

"We didn't want to interfere with the success they have in that program," Muoio said. "We decided that second-time, multiple offenders would be the way to target it."

Residents in the city's north end have complained that prostitution is on the rise during the economic downturn. Myrna Sossner, a north end resident, said she agrees with the city's decision not to post first-time offenders, but believes repeat offenders should be shamed.

"If they've been arrested a second time, or beyond, you've got to make them realize that they're not helping society and they're endangering their own lives and the lives of any other," Sossner said.

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