Sheriff sues Craigslist as ‘largest source’ of prostitution

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced today that his office has sued Craigslist and has asked a federal judge to ban the Internet company from posting its “erotic services” section, which the sheriff said is a clearing house for prostitution.

Dart also asked the judge to force the online classifieds company to reimburse the sheriff’s department for the approximately $100,000 it has spent pursuing its Craigslist investigation over the past year.

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Early response from SWOP Chicago:

SWOP-Chicago does not condone the actions of the Cook County sheriff towards Craigslist. These actions are meant to persecute adults engaging in consensual sexual acts for money and goods of value. Creating criminal records for sex workers bars them from other forms of employment outside of sex work and may limit their ability to seek housing and other services.

This law suit is also a tremendous waste of tax payer resources during a time of severe economic turmoil in the state of Illinois and the country as a whole. The state of Illinois is currently facing a $9 billion dollar (and growing) deficit. Based on an analysis by Julie Pearl in 1987 and adjusted for inflation, in 2007 alone, the state spent over $14.6 million dollars on prostitution arrests. These figures do not take into account the cost of supporting jailed sex workers and the cost to human services agencies who serve these populations and the children of these individuals.

The resources involved in this law suit and in prostitution stings are much better used elsewhere. In 2007, Chicago reported 443 known murders, yet there were only 372 arrests state-wide. The money and resources would be better spent providing health and human services to sex workers and other citizens of the state of Illinois who should receive services, rather than be prosecuted for lack of other viable options.

Suing Craigslist to end the marketing of erotic services will not address the issues. If recent FBI stings are any indication, very few, if any, children and minors involved in forcible, coerced, or trafficked prostitution are found by Craigslist targeting and crack downs. Ending Craigslist’s erotic services section will do nothing to stop the exploitation or forced, coerced, or trafficked people, and will divert valuable time and money away from the effort.

The Cook County sheriff is doing no one a service, not the tax payers, not the sex workers targeted. We at SWOP-Chicago strongly urge residents of Illinois to protest this egregious waste of their taxes and public resources and to consider what is truly best for the health and welfare of individuals who advertise erotic services on Craigslist.

SWOP Chicago is encouraging supporters to contact the Sheriff’s office:

Cook County Sheriff’s Office
50 W. Washington
Chicago, Illinois 60602
(312) 603-6444
sheriff@cookcountysheriff.org

Resources:

Original Article- Sheriff Tom Dart Sues Craigslist

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he’s busted enough prostitutes who were pimped out on Craigslist to know the popular on-line classified site is the country’s largest whorehouse.