The news:

In March, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned after being linked in a prostitution ring.

Behind the news:

According to annual reports by the Chicago Police Department, prostitution arrests in Chicago went down 23.4 percent, from 7,182 to 5,499, between 2000 and 2006, the latest year for which the reports are available.

Monique Bond, director of News Affairs at the department, said the police are successfully cleaning up the streets. “The reduced numbers indicate that our strategies are working,” she said.

But Rachel Durchslag, executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, an advocacy organization committed to eliminating demand for commercial sexual exploitation, said the credit should also go to advocacy groups working throughout the city, along with the police, who she said are severely under-resourced.

“[Police] are doing a good job with the resources they have, but I think they could do a much better job of going after demand side–”of arresting the men purchasing,” she said. “This is the case in almost all cities in the U.S., so Chicago is not unique.”

African-American women had the highest number of prostitution arrests with 1,655 arrests in 2006, but the figure is down nearly 47 percent since 2001, when 3,114 black women were arrested.

Drea Hall, lead organizer for the Prostitution Alternative Round Table, an advocacy project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for women involved in prostitution, said the figure is more indicative of the tactics employed by the police than the prevalence of prostitution among different groups of women. Black women are represented more in arrest numbers, Hall said, because of “the neighborhoods the police are targeting and the racial profiling that exists.”

Although women are the majority of those arrested, the number of men arrested for soliciting prostitutes has increased almost 34 percent from 1,609 in 2001 to 2,151 in 2006. Latino men had the highest number of arrests with 915 in 2006.

“My theory is that police are really going after an easy target,” said Daria Mueller, who directs policy initiatives for Prostitution Alternative Round Table. “You have Latino men doing day labor –¦ They are in a vulnerable position. They are easily duped by decoy officers who’re posing as prostitutes.”