The purpose of a John school is to educate and divert males who have been the customers of prostitutes. The students are generally first offenders with no prior arrests or records. Counselors, community leaders, police officers, and former prostitutes often serve as speakers or teachers at these institutions. Sometimes classes will consist of a single day-long course while others may include several days.
Many cities are offering John school programs to first-time offenders in an effort to cut down on prostitution in general. They educate the men on sexually transmitted diseases, the risks of jail time and broken homes associated with buying sex from prostitutes, and chastise them on their actions in some cases. Since these programs are relatively new, it is hard to pinpoint how effective they are at preventing repeat offenders, but in some locations second offenders lowered from eight percent to only five percent.
Males who are caught soliciting sex from a prostitute, or an officer posing a prostitute, are sometimes sentenced to attend a John school rather than face jail. Those who commit similar crimes may also be given this option. Offenders who have already been sentences to prison for sex crimes may also be sent to a John school as part of their paroles.
In most cases, John schools are located inside community centers, churches, and other public venues. Directors of such programs are often counselors or non-profit directors who work for sex crime prevention organizations. Sometimes they are run by law enforcement. A fee is typically charged for attendance. This money is often donated to organizations which fight against prostitution.
John schools aim to show prostitution as a community problem. Many prostitutes have pasts which include abuse and poverty. Many officials claim that by cutting down on the number of clients who visit prostitutes, the overall rate of prostitution will be lowered. John school students are given lectures by former prostitutes about the realities of living such a lifestyle. This allows many men to see their actions on a larger scale rather than as isolated events.
Those who resist John school courses may be subject to imprisonment. Men who have a sexual addiction may be able to receive additional help through the founders and managers of each school. Although thousands have been helped through John school programs, it is estimated that there are millions of prostitutes and Johns who operate each year. Most of them are never caught in the act.