Prosecutors from 17 states sent a letter to the proprietors of Craigslist on Tuesday demanding they remove adult classified ads from their website, including “ads for prostitution,” and “trafficking children.”
The group of state attorneys general urged the Craigslist officials to take “immediate action to end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads.”
The recent letter follows a 2008 agreement between state prosecutors and Craigslist owners that the popular website will more closely monitor its adult services category, and work with police against illegal prostitution advertisements.
“Only Craigslist has the power to stop these ads before they are even published,” said Kansas attorney general Steve Six in a statement released on Tuesday. “Sadly, they are completely unwilling to do so.”
Under pressure from state attorneys general, the website has ramped up monitoring to some degree by requiring a working phone number and a fee to those placing ads in the erotic services section.
In 2009 the site pledged that it would manually review postings before publishing. However, state prosecutors are not convinced that Craigslist is doing enough to take down illegal ads.
The letter acknowledges that the measure is likely to result in a loss of revenue for Craigslist.
“No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by Craigslist,” the letter said.
NPR, citing authorities, reported that some of the dates set up through the website ended in violence and even death.
Philip Markoff, 24, a former student of Boston University committed suicide in his cell after pleading not guilty both to killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist, and in the armed robbery of a Las Vegas woman, both of which Markoff met through publishing ads in the erotic section on Craigslist.
States comprising the nationwide effort to shut down Craigslist adult services include: Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.