CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Attorney General David Yost is proposing new efforts to curb the state’s prostitution problem.
In 2018, law enforcement identified 206 suspected johns in Ohio, all of them are believed to be involved in sex trafficking.
This week, the state announced new efforts for harsher prostitution laws, hoping to curb human trafficking.
“We think there’s demand problem, particularly because human trafficking tells us that frequently, the woman isn’t there because she thinks that’s a lovely life and chose that as a career path, she’s being enslaved by her pimp," Yost said. “Don’t buy sex in Ohio. We’re serious."
The AG’s plan is two fold.
The first part includes holding johns accountable by separating prostitution charges into two categories: buying and selling.
“We want to make the buying of sex a more serious offense than the selling of sex," Yost said.
People who buy sex would be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
If they commit the crime again, they could be sent to jail for 30 days. A third time being convicted of selling sex would land someone in jail for at least 60 days.
People who sell sex would still be arrested, but charged with a lesser crime.
“We’re not proposing to decriminalize prostitution,"explained Yost.
The second part of the plan would be initiating an online public database that identifies convicted johns.
“They’re business people. They’ve got obviously money to spend on something like this. Frequently they live in nice neighborhoods. They have families They’re married," Yost said.
Yost hopes the database would act as a deterrent by keeping johns from even seeking sex for money.
The cost would be about $200,000 to get the database running. Then, it would be about $20,000 each year to maintain. The funds would likely come from taxpayers.
“We think that’s a small price to pay to push back against modern day slavery," said Yost.
Both of the proposed efforts have to be passed by Ohio lawmakers. If they are, Yost said he’s hoping to get the database up and running next year.