Major Bascom Johnson
Sanitary Corps, U.S.N.A.; Director, Division of Law Enforcement, War
Department Commission on Training Camp Activities
The Allies in France have been battering their way forward from one line of defense to another. A similar campaign is being waged in America against commercialized prostitution near military camps. Its aim is to protect our military forces from prostitutes and other carriers of venereal diseases in order to keep them fit to fight.
The first objective of this campaign has been quickly reached — the enemy’s first line of defense has been obliterated; there is today not a single red light district within five miles of any cantonment or military camp or naval station were any considerable number of soldiers or sailors are training. More than twenty-five such districts have been closed. This was accomplished quickly because each state or municipality concerned — sometimes both — took over the storming of its section of the line to be attacked.
The universal cry issuing out of these and other such communities has been “What shall we do next ? We have complied with your requests to abolish our red light districts. What more do you want us to do ? In short, what are the next steps?”
Making due allowances for differences in laws and conditions in widely separated portions of the country, there are herewith presented certain ways and means which have been found useful in maintaining and extending the gains which have been made.
It should be said at the outset, however, that there is no magic formula which, when adopted, will insure a morally clean city. There is no royal road to cleanliness any more that there is to learning.
Eternal vigilance is just as much the price of municipal cleanliness as it is of liberty.
When a red light district is broken up, the professional prostitute from this district will, if repressive action stops there, continue her operations on the streets and in hotels, rooming houses, or apartments, where she will endeavor to compete with the more successful clandestine prostitutes who have always operated in the city at large. This is the second line of defense, and is likely to be stubbornly contested. This is particularly true in large cities because of the many rooms in which these women may ply their trade, and the relative secrecy that is possible in the complex life of the communities.
When a city administration, however, has bombarded this second line of defense for some months, and has given convincing evidence of sincerity, the enemy retires to the third and last line of defense, i.e., the great outdoors, with the automobile as the best means of getting there. Under this system, the prostitute often forms a working alliance with some chauffeur who may, or may not, be her pimp. This chauffeur runs a jitney or service car for hire, and usually has more than one girl on his list from which his customers may choose. The door men, porters, or bell boys at hotels, who reap the most profit as go-betweens in the hotel traffic, also assist in putting the customer in touch with a chauffeur, who, in turn provides a prostitute from his list. The combinations are many and often complex, but this is the general system.
This automobile traffic has increased to large proportions of late, and is fairly extensive even in communities which are still attacking the second line of defense. The reasons for this will, upon a moment’s reflection, appear obvious. Few city police departments, or county sheriffs, are sufficiently equipped with motorcycle police to patrol the city streets and country roads, and the prostitute may infinitely vary the scene of her operations, or the care itself may be used if necessary. To this variety of ways and means employed by the prostitute may be added the fact that the laws of most states are entirely inadequate to cope with this new and elusive method of operation, and it is hardly to be wondered at that the automobile prostitute is the ban of the law enforcing officials.
How to attack prostitution then, in its second and third lines of defense, in communities near which large bodies of soldiers or sailors are located, is the subject of this pamphlet.
The suggestions here made are based on the experiences of large cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, as well as that of numerous smaller communities scattered in all sections of the country.
The state and municipal laws against prostitution should be carefully examined by an experienced lawyer in the light of their proven effectiveness. If any of these laws are found to be weak or difficult of enforcement, amendments should be devised to strengthen them. When new situations have developed, new laws may be necessary to cope with them. In the main, however, it may be said that law enforcement breaks down more often from failure to enforce existing laws than from lack of adequate laws.
The legal codes of progressive states and cities that are making the greatest gains against this evil contain, however, certain types of laws of proven usefulness which are herewith presented and referred to: ---
(a) A law penalizing the owners, agents, or lessees of property who knowingly, or with good reason to know, rent or sublet their properties in whole or in part for immoral purposes.
(b) A law known as the “Injunction and Abatement Law” requiring city or county attorneys and permitting individual citizens to close by injunction houses used in whole or in part for purposes of lewdness, assignation or prostitution.
(c) A law penalizing solicitation for prostitution either by the prostitutes or by go-betweens, including keepers of houses of prostitution, bell boys, porters, chauffeurs, etc., who may bring persons together for immoral purposes.
(d) A law penalizing those who visit any place, structure, or building for immoral purposes.
(e) An ordinance requiring all transient hotels and rooming houses to be licensed annually, and providing for their supervision and the revocation of licenses upon violation of laws against prostitution.
(f) A law permitting state health departments to require by regulation the reporting of all cases of venereal disease under such conditions as will protect the diseased persons from loss of reputation by exposure.
(g) A law permitting state health departments to provide and secure by regulation proper treatment and supervision of disease carriers, even by quarantine if necessary.
(h) A law substituting commitment to a reformatory or other institution instead of a fine as a sentence for women convicted of prostitution.
(i) A law authorizing the establishment of, and providing an appropriation for state reformatories based upon the Bedford or Sleighton Farm plan in New York and Pennsylvania, respectively, where prostitutes can be sent for a term of indeterminate length (within certain limits) bu the courts and receive treatment calculated to rehabilitate them.
(j) A law authorizing the establishment of, and providing an appropriation for, an institution for the commitment and permanent internment of the feeble-minded, many of whom are
( 13) prostitutes; also of a psychopathic hospital for the treatment of incipient mental delinquents.
(k) A law permitting the expeditious removal of any municipal or
county official who neglect or refuses to enforce these laws.
B. ADMINISTRATION OF LAWS
As indicated above, failure is more often traceable to bad administration of existing laws than to any insufficiency in the laws themselves. American communities are notorious for their ostrich-like attitude on this subject. Most of us think that if we pass a law and elect some man, who has never been in jail, to enforce it, we have done our full duty and may then attend to our private business with childlike confidence the result.
Of course nothing is farther from the truth, particularly as regards the enforcement of laws against prostitution. Every law that interferes with business in behalf of the public welfare has immediately arrayed against it all the power, political and financial, of the interests interfered with. Commercialized prostitution is one of the most profitable businesses that have ever existed. A large share of this profit comes, however, form the illicit sale of liquor by prostitutes. Mutual interest between commercialized prostitution and the liquor traffickers has therefore often resulted in a working alliance between the two. In not a few cases the interest controlling both businesses are identical. Those interests, together with certain banks which have mortgages on such property, real estate owners, and agents who make easy and often exorbitant profits, and business firms who sell jewelry and other luxuries to prostitutes, are loud in their denunciation of the enforcement of laws against prostitution. They give as their reasons the flimsy arguments in favor of segregation as the only alternative to “scatteration;” or they fall back upon a hypocritical sympathy for the poor girl who
( 14) would starve if deprived of full and free opportunity to separate the soldier from his two dollars, and incidentally, perhaps, to infect him with syphilis or gonorrhea, which in many cases will serve to keep him out of the trenches. Of course the real sympathy of most of those people who so argue is for themselves and not for the prostitute.
In addition to those who benefit financially from commercialized prostitution are the people who honestly favor it because they have been misled as to the facts and others of the conservative turn of mind who fervently oppose change of any kind. These powerful opposing interests, coupled with varying degrees of public ignorance and prejudice, render the effective enforcement of laws against prostitution difficult under ordinary conditions. In war camp communities, the sudden and great increase in the population by the addition of large numbers of young unmarried soldiers greatly increases this difficulty. Such communities will need the most persistent and intelligent efforts of their of officials and of their progressively-minded citizens working together in cooperation with the agents of the Department of Justice and the Military Police to secure and maintain the standard of municipal cleanliness required by the War Department. These efforts fall naturally into three general classes: —
I. Efforts to protect young girls and to prevent them from entering lives of prostitution.
II. Efforts to make prostitutes and other venereal-disease carriers hard to find.
III. Efforts to stimulate official action and educate public opinion to get behind the program.
I. Efforts to protect young girls and to prevent them from entering lives of prostitution.
(a) The appointment of women police or protective officers. These women should have social service experience. They do scouting and patrol work on the streets and at places of amusement to discover young girls who are in danger. They aid in the enforcement of laws where these young girls are complainants and render them other personal and constructive service. They have power to supervise or at least to inspect and report on the
( 15) proper authorities on the conduct of all places of public recreation with a view to making them as safe as possible.
(b) The appointment of women probation officers with equal social training and experience. While they are court officers and are therefore required to supervise and report to the court the conduct of girls placed on probation, their chief value results from the use they make of their opportunities to learn the truth about and befriend delinquent girls. These officers should prove effective in finding suitable employment for their charges and in adjusting family differences and other difficulties that may have contributed to their delinquency.
(c) Detention homes. In order to protect young girls who are delinquent or are held as witnesses, and also adult first offenders from the demoralizing influences of jails, there should be established in every city a municipal house of detention. In such place these girls and women can remain temporarily while effort is being made to discover their individual needs and the best plan for helping them. Here also may come girls charged or released on probation, when willing to escape from their wretched surroundings.
II. Efforts to make prostitutes and other venereal-disease carriers hard to find.
In order to make it hard to find professional prostitutes, almost all of whom are venereal-disease carriers, and most of whom will not be benefited by being put on probation immediately, the simplest and most effect plan is involved in the establishment of state reformatories and homes for the feeble-minded. If every prostitute whose rehabilitation required her commitment to a reformatory for two or three years, or whose mental condition required her permanent internment in a home for the feeble-minded, were so committed or interned, our problem would be cut at least in half for the period of the war. Many war camp communities either have so such institution, or their existing ones are already crowded. This lack of material resources accentuates the necessity that exists everywhere for using every administrative police method that has proven valuable. Among such methods are suggested: —
( 16) Use of plain clothes police for gathering evidence. There appears to be a prejudice in some cities against this well recognized and most necessary police method. It is hardly necessary to point out that policemen in uniform can rarely secure evidence of violation of the laws against prostitution. This prejudice appears to be based on the assumption that such plain clothes police frame up cases against such women or at least solicit a violation of the law or participate in it. The value of plain clothes police is that they can observe solicitation on the streets or in other public places by prostitutes or for prostitutes by bell boys, chauffeurs and other go-betweens that uniformed police would never see; they may rent rooms in hotels, rooming houses or apartment houses without suspicion and observe violations of the law that would otherwise escape notice. When properly supervised and directed, they never themselves violate the law nor are they allowed to solicit others to violate it. It is true that they often become the objects of solicitation but the initiative always comes from the law breaker and not from them.
The effectiveness of plain clothes police is sometimes greatly lessened by the requirement of judges that evidence of the act of prostitution be introduced before they will convict. Any community which possesses the laws outlined in the first part of this pamphlet will have ample legal machinery for the conviction of prostitutes and keepers of houses of prostitution without requiring its police to secure such evidence and thus become parties to the violation of the laws they are attempting to enforce. Vigilant and aggressive plain clothes squads, properly directed and equipped by the city and county, will soon clean the prostitutes from the streets and roads, cafés and other public places in the city and county, and will make it very dangerous fro their go-betweens to send or bring customers to them or for proprietors to permit prostitutes to operated in their houses.
When prostitutes have thus become hard for civilians to find, they may still remain somewhat easier for men in uniform to locate. Municipal police and sheriffs of counties should then seek —
(b) Cooperation of the military police. Every military camp
( 17) has such a police force, whose duty it is to prevent violations of law within the military reservation and, since the passage of the Acto fo Congress of May 18, 1917, to prevent prostitution within five miles of such camp. A request directed to the commander of such a camp or even to the commander of the military police will result in full cooperation. The arrests will of course continue to be made by the civil authorities but the evidence may be secured by the military police in the manner above indicated. It will not be long before the prostitute will be as difficult for the soldier to find as for the civilian, if not more difficult.
(c) Revocation of licences. Hotels, and rooming houses also, if the law outlined in subdivision (e) of the first part of this pamphlet is adopted, together with restaurants, dance halls, automobiles for hire and all forms of commercialized amusements, generally operate under license from the city or county. The power to grant such licenses usually carries with it the power to revoke them upon cause shown. The exercise of this power by local officials in cases where the licensee has permitted his place of business to become a meeting place for prostitutes and soldiers has had a most salutary effect.
(d) Placing building or portion of a community out of bounds. The commander of any military camp has the right to prevent his troops from entering any building or portion of the territory adjacent to his camp. Most police officials are familiar with the blockade system and have used it with good effect when necessary.
If the owner of any building in a city or the residents of any section of a community successfully resist the efforts of the civilian officials to present prostitutes from plying their trade therein with soldiers, such officials, upon application to the commanding officer of such camp, will usually secure from him an order placing that building or section of the community out of bounds. The placing of military police before such building or around such section and the effectual prevention of the entrance of soldiers therein has always brought the desired results.
III. Efforts to stimulate official action and education public opinion to get behind the program.
The above suggestions are based on the assumption that public officials in war camp communities are willing and able to enforce the laws. Unfortunately this in not always the case. In some communities that have grown used to having a red light district and have abolished it because the federal government asked them to do so, we have found a disposition on the part of such officials to prophesy failure for the program of repression and even on occasion to help along the fulfillment of that prophecy by a masterly policy of inaction. It has bee found necessary in such communities to organize unofficial social hygiene societies to supplement and check up on the activities of officials, to create and intelligent public opinion, and to bring its pressure to bear on the officials. The cost of such an organization in cities under 500,000 population should not exceed $10,000 per year, and one such organization has been run in a city of the size for as little as $3000 or $3500, for a competent executive secretary, who ought to be a lawyer, and relying on him for results and for educational leadership which will attract more money as it is needed.
Sometimes coordination between city departments is all that is needed to produce results. The police department may complain that the judges throw the cases out of court on frivolous pretexts as fast as the police bring them in. The judges may declare they cannot convict without evidence, and the district attorney’s alibi is that he has no funds to employ detectives to get such evidence. The placing of a stenographer in the court of such a judge to take down a report of the proceedings for a few days will soon locate the weak link in the chain. If there is a real difficulty, as there often is, which can be remedied by an additional appropriation by the city council, the social hygiene society can perform a genuine service by helping to secure the appropriation or by providing the needed service in some other way. If all that is needed is a spirit of cooperation and a sincere pulling together by all departments, the society can act as the coordinator. If insincerity and unwillingness to enforce the law by any official develops, and continues after a fair warning and
( 19) offer of assistance, the public should be informed of the facts through the newspapers and other avenues of public information. As a last resort ouster proceedings should be started to remove recalcitrant officials from office.
In states that have injunction and abatement laws such social hygiene societies should act as the agencies through which any citizen may abate a house of ill fame or similar nuisance in his neighborhood when unable to secure relief from the local authorities.
In order to secure public support for the War Department’s program, it will often be necessary for such a social hygiene society to inform the public of the price they have been paying for this form of self-indulgence. Many good people are not acquainted with the social devastation that always results from a wide open town. They need to be shown the amount of blindness, insanity and sterility resulting from syphilis and gonorrhea — the surveys demonstrating the fact that over ninety per cent of all prostitutes are infected with one or both of these diseases; that so-called “regulation” never has regulated and never can regulate; that the medical inspection of prostitutes is, and must of necessity be, a ghastly farce which turns into a tragedy when relied upon as a protection by their patrons. They need to be told that it was because of these cats that Congress inserted Section 13 in the Draft Act of May 18, 1917, authorizing the Secretary of War, and subsequently the Secretary of the Navy, to do everything by them deemed necessary to suppress houses of prostitution near army camps and navy stations. These people should be told that what the best brains of the country have thought to be necessary for the health and efficiency of the army and navy is just as necessary to the health and efficiency of young men in civil life, that, in fact, the efficiency of the army and navy will depend in large measure upon the efficiency of the civil population behind it in this war of whole peoples; and lastly, it should be emphasized that any man or woman who knowingly temps a soldier or sailor to immorality and, therefore, to run grave risks of infection and incapacity for further service, is a traitor to his or her country
Massachusetts Revised Laws, 1902, Chap. 101
Section 6. All buildings, places or tenements which are resorted to for prostitution, lewdness or illegal gaming, or which are used for illegal keeping or sale of intoxication liquor shall be deemed common nuisances.
Section 7. Whoever keeps or maintains such common nuisances shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars and by imprisonment for not less than three or more than twelve months.
* * * * *
Section 10. If a tenant or occupant of a building or tenement under a lawful titles uses such premises or any part thereof for any of the purposes enumerated in section six, such use shall annul and make void the lease or other title under which he holds and without any act of the owner shall cause the right of possession to revert and vest in him, and he may without process of law make immediate entry upon the premises or avail himself of the remedy provided in chapter 181.
Section 11. Whoever knowingly lets a building or tenement owned by him or under his control for any purposes enumerated in section six, or knowingly permits such building or tenement or any part thereof while under his control to be used for such purpose or after due notice of any such use omits to take reasonable measures to eject therefrom the person occupying the same as soon as it can lawfully be done shall be deemed guilty of aiding in the maintenance of such nuisance and punished as provided in section seven.
Be it enacted, etc., That whoever shall solicit or receive compensation for soliciting for a prostitute or shall with knowledge or good reason to know of the immoral purpose of such direction, taking or transportation, or offer to take or transport, on foot or automobile or any othe means, any person to any house of ill fame, hotel, rooming house, or apartment, or any other person to any house of ill fame, hotel, rooming house, or apartment, or any other place whatsoever, for purposes of lewdness, assignation, or prostitution, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00), or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Connecticut General Statutes, Revision of 1902
“Section 1316. Every person who shall keep a house which is, or is reputed to be, a house of ill fame, which is resorted to, or is reputed to be resorted to, for the purpose of prostitution or lewdness, or a house reputed to be a house or place of assignation, or who shall reside in or frequent any such house for such purpose; or who shall keep or maintain a disorderly house, or a house where lewd, dissolute, or drunken persons resort, or a house where drinking, carousing, dancing, or fighting is permitted, to the disturbance of the neighbors, shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
SECTION 1317. Every person frequenting, residing in, keeping or maintaining a house reputed to be a house of ill fame, or house of assignation, may, by any justice of the peace, upon complaint of a proper informing officer, be required to become bound in a recognizance, with surety, to the town in which such house is situated, for his good behavior; and if he shall neglect to become so bound and pay the costs of prosecution, shall be committed to the workhouse in the town, jail in the count, where the offense was committed, not more than thirty days, and until such costs are paid; and he may appeal from the order of said justice of the peace, as in other criminal cases; and if he shall, within sex months thereafter, be again convicted of the same offense, such recognizance shall be forfeited.
An Ordinance to regulate lodging houses and hotels within the (City of ———0;
to prevent vice and immorality therein; and to provide penalties for violation thereof.
Be it ordained by (The Mayor and Council of the City of ———) and it is ordained by the authority of the same, that:
SECTION 1. It shall be unlawful for any person to conduct any lodging house or hotel within the corporate limits of the (City of ———) without having first obtained from the (Director of Public Safety) a license entitling him so to do, with license shall be valid until the 31st day of December of the year in which it is granted. A person shall be deemed to be conducting a lodging house or hotel within the meaning of this ordinance if the total number of occupants of all rooms rented by him is two or more.
SECTION 2. No license shall be granted by the (Director of Public Safety) under the terms of this ordinance unless the applicants therefor shall present to him a statement, sworn to by the said applicant, in manner and form substantially as follows: —
FOR LODGING HOUSE OR HOTEL KEEPER’S LICENCE
To the (Director of Public Safety of the City of ———):
I hereby apply for a license to transact business as a lodging house or hotel keeper at No. ———, ——— Street, in the (City of ———) during the year ending the 31st day of December, A. D. 191—, under the provisions of “An Ordinance to regulate lodging houses and hotels within te (City of ————) to prevent vice and immorality therein; and to provide penalties for violation thereof, approved the ——— day of ———, 191 —.”
The undersigned, having made application to the (Director of Public Safety of the City of —————) for a license as a lodging house of hotel keeper, solemnly swear that the place where ———— proposes to carry on the said business is at No. ————, ——— Street, in the said city; that the number of rooms
( 22) contained in the place where the said business is to be carried on is ———; and that —— rooms are rented or to be rented for lodging or sleeping purposes.————
Subscribed and Sworn to before me this ——— day of ————, 191—.
SECTION 3. It shall be unlawful for any person licensed to conduct any lodging house or hotel whatsoever in the (City of ————) or any person in actual charge, management or control of any lodging house or hotel therein, to suffer or permit any portion thereof to be used as a house of ill-fame, or place of assignation, for the purpose of prostitution, fornication or lewdness, or to suffer or permit any lascivious cohabitation, adultery, fornication or other immoral practice to be carried on therein.
SECTION 4. Every person conducting any lodging house or hotel whatsoever in the (City of —————) shall at all times keep and maintain therein a standard hotel register, in which shall be inscribed with ink or indelible pencil the name and home street and town address of each and every guest or person renting or occupying a room or rooms therein. Such register shall be signed by the person renting a room or rooms, and the proprietor of such lodging house or hotel, or his or her agent, shall thereupon write opposite such name or names so registered the number of each room assigned to and occupied by each such guest, together with the time when such room is rented; and until all of the aforesaid entries shall be made in such register, no such guest shall be suffered or permitted to occupy privately any room in such house. When the occupant or occupants of each room so rented shall quit or surrender the same, it shall be the further duty of the proprietor of such house or hotel, or his or her agent, to enter the time thereof in such register opposite the name of such occupant or occupants. Such register shall be kept at all times open to the inspection of any guest of such house or hotel wherein such register is kept and of any executive or police officer of the (City of —————).
SECTION 5. It shall be unlawful for any person to write, or cause to be written or knowingly permit to be written, in any register in any lodging house or hotel whatsoever in the (City of ———— ), any other or different name or designation than the true name of the person registered therein, or the name by which such person is generally known.
SECTION 6. It shall be unlawful for the proprietor, manager or person in charge of any lodging house or hotel whatsoever in the (City of ————) to rent or assign to, or to suffer or permit to be rented or assigned to, or privately occupied jointly by, persons of opposite sex any room or rooms in such lodging house or hotel unless such person shall be registered as husband and wife, or as parent and minor child, or if, notwithstanding such registration, such proprietor, manager, or other person receiving such persons as guest into such house or hotel, shall have reasonable cause to believe such persons not to be, and they be not, husband and wife, or parent and minor child.
SECTION 7. It shall be unlawful for any two persons of opposite sex, except husband and wife or parent and minor child, to occupy jointly or privately any room or rooms in any lodging house or hotel in the (City of ————).
SECTION 8. It shall be unlawful for any person to let for sleeping or lodging purposes any room in any lodging house or hotel whatsoever in the (City of ————) more than once between the hours of six o’clock in the evening and six o’clock in the morning of the next day, except to bona fide travelers with baggage.
SECTION 9. Any person guilty of violating any provision of this ordinance shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not less than fifty ($50) dollars or more than one hundred ($100) dollars, and the cost of prosecution, or by imprisonment in the (Jail of ———— County) for not more than ninety (90) days, for each offense, or by both fine and imprisonment as aforesaid, in the discretion of the court, and if only a fine with costs be imposed the offender may be sentenced until payment thereof for a term not exceeding thirty (30) days in the (Jail of ————— County).
SECTION 10. The (Director of Public Safety) is hereby specifically charged with the duty of enforcing the provisions of this ordinance and of prosecuting all offenders against the same. He shall report annually to the (Council) in writing on or before the — day of —— on the enforcement of this ordinance and shall include in his report a list of the names and addresses of all persons licensed under the provision of this ordinance during the preceding year, and a summary of all violations of the provisions of this ordinance during the preceding year. The said annual report shall be kept on file in the office of the (City Clerk) and shall be open to the inspection of any member of the public during office hours.
The state board of health shall have power to make such regulations concerning venereal diseases, including the reporting thereof and quarantine of infected persons, as it may from time to time deem advisable.
[Note.—— Suggestions for state and municipal boards of health regulations for the prevention of venereal diseases have been prepared by the Section on Combating Venereal Diseases of the Medical Department of the Army and approved by the surgeons general of the Army, the Navy, and the Public Health Service. Copies of these suggestions may be obtained from the Committee on Civilian Cooperation of the Council of National Defense, Washington, D. C., or the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service. These three agencies are closely cooperating in an effort to encourage uniformity of legislation and administration and any one of them may be consulted concerning details of desirable regulations for individual cities or states.]