"Changing up" at a Prostitution Stroll: Using Ethnographic Methods to Uncover Varieties of Crime Displacement and Adaptations by Drug-Addicted Prostitutes to Police Interventions

Regina E. Brisgone, Rutgers University

The study of "displacement" and "hotspots" has been one of great interest in crime prevention studies. This qualitative study uses ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews with 49 active prostitutes over ten months to uncover patterns of displacement in response to police crackdowns in a six-block area and adjacent "catchment areas." Analyses will focus on coded narratives from 79 interviews that identify both displacement behaviours previously discussed in the literature and "street honed" adaptations that inclujde temporary ue of drug treatment and social services supports, and the conversion of sex clients into financial providers to weather police crackdowns. A hallmark of qualitative methods is discovery of new insights and patterns. This study sought to uncover "local causality" by focusing on perceptions of offenders to police crackdowns in real time. Discussion focuses on the influence of drug abuse on the sample's propensity to learn from police interventions, and to adapt and calibrate responses rather than desist from offending. Also to be discussed is how the prostitutes perceived the environment of their offending spots, and made movement decisions based on "comfort zones" that followed their paths to typical daily activities.

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Updated 05/20/2006