skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 201121 Find in a Library
Title: "I Won't Do Manhattan" Causes and Consequences of a Decline in Street Prostitution
Author(s): Robert R. Weidner
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 240
Sponsoring Agency: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC
El Paso, TX 79913
Publication Number: ISBN 1-931202-10-9
Sale Source: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC
Box 221258
El Paso, TX 79913
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Book (Hardbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study gauged how changes in enforcement by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the sanctions of the Midtown Community Court combined to affect both the places in Manhattan in which prostitution was located and the individuals who worked as prostitutes.
Abstract: The three major organizational actors involved in the transformation of Manhattan's street prostitution markets were the Midtown Community Court, the NYPD, and Business Improvement Districts (BID's). The Midtown Community Court is a misdemeanor arraignment court located on west 54th Street in Manhattan. Its jurisdiction includes more than 350 blocks on the west side of Midtown Manhattan. In contrast to the "revolving door justice" typical of most centralized urban courts, the Midtown Court was created to handle only misdemeanor cases and to provide intermediate sanctioning alternatives for an array of low-level offenses, especially shoplifting, prostitution, drug possession, unlicensed vending, and fare evasion. Regarding NYPD intervention, the current policy toward the enforcement of quality-of-life crimes, including street prostitution, was enacted shortly after William Bratton was appointed police commissioner by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in early 1994. Street prostitution was just one of the many targeted acts, which included "squeegeeing" car windshields at redlights and reckless bicycle riding. At the same time that the NYPD began to devote more resources to address low-level crimes, BID's emerged in Manhattan. BID's are defined as areas "in which property owners voluntarily tax themselves and use the money to improve conditions and thereby the quality of life within the boundaries of the district." In this way, commercial areas are better able to control the physical environment and security in which their businesses operate. In examining the impact of these interventions, this study used multiple sources of data, both qualitative and quantitative, from unofficial and official sources, thus making this study more comprehensive than previous evaluations of anti-prostitution efforts, as well as many previous studies that attempted to account for displacement. The data, which spanned 8 years, allowed for the examination of the intervention's impact both on the places in which street prostitution occurred and on individual prostitutes. Aggregate arrest data, broken down by the boroughs of New York City as well as the Midtown Court's catchment area, were used as a proxy for prostitutes' offending patterns. Arrest data were complemented with findings from ethnographic observations. Findings from a survey of Midtown residents supplemented these sources. The findings show that apparently street prostitution markets in Manhattan declined markedly in the mid-1990's, perhaps as a result of the enforcement by the NYPD and the Midtown Court's sanctions. The study suggests that this aggregate-level decline in obtrusive street prostitution was the product of a variety of individual-level behavior adaptations in an increasingly difficult working environment. The research also found, however, that the most drastic behavioral change by prostitutes, i.e., out-right desistance, was rare. The ramifications of these findings for crime control policy, as well as their implications for future research, are discussed. Extensive tables and figures, chapter notes, a 130-item bibliography, appended supplementary data, and a subject index
Main Term(s): Community crime prevention programs
Index Term(s): Crime control policies; Crime displacement; Effectiveness of crime prevention programs; Misdemeanor courts; New York; Police business cooperation; Police policies and procedures; Prostitution
Note: From the series, "Criminal Justice: Recent Scholarship."
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.