The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday on a controversial proposal to send anonymous “john letters” to the owners of vehicles that have been seen spending time in areas known for prostitution in order to discourage solicitation.
The council is seeking to have the city’s attorney’s office analyze the proposal which would use license numbers to determine who owns the vehicles–potentially sending the letters to their listed physical addresses.
“If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox,” Councilwoman Nury Martinez said, acceding to the Associated Press.
The proposal has reportedly sparked criticism from a San Francisco-based civil liberties group named the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit against the LAPD and the L.A. Sheriff’s Department over this issue.
Some of its members have raised concerns about what happens if a person is in the questionable neighborhood for legitimate reasons.
Advocates of the move, such as Cindy Sower, who is a business owner in the Sun Valley, told the AP that she sees the letters as a sort of “wake up call” to the recipients. “Let’s say that letter comes in and your wife, your girlfriend or mother gets it.”
In addition to warning about potential exposure to sexually-transmitted diseases, the letters also seek to paint a bleak picture for those who could potentially be involved in breaking the law.
A newly-released report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Los Angeles County has the highest number of STDs in the United States.