The city of West Palm Beach is considering this week whether or not to publish the names and private information of people arrested for solicitation of prostitution within the city limits. City officials are contemplating posting the names, photographs, and addresses of those arrested either on the city’s website or in a print publication, such as the Palm Beach Post.
The city’s hope is that the embarrassment that it will cause to those arrested will prevent the crime from occurring in the future and will reduce the incidents of prostitution in West Palm Beach. But the problems it will cause for the men arrested and their wives and families can be catastrophic. For one thing, Palm Beach County offers a diversion program for first time offenders charged with solicitation of prostitution. If a person successfully completes the program, which includes health education classes and STD testing, the criminal charges are dropped. However, if the person’s name and picture are public record regardless even when the charges are dismissed, the social stigma of the arrest will never go away. It could expose those arrested to losing their jobs or breaking up their families. It could also cause a great deal of embarrassment for the children of arrestees.
Gone are the days of tarring and feathering criminals in the public square. West Palm Beach would be wise to consider other options in the enforcement and prevention of prostitution, without resorting to humiliation and public disgrace.