Lily Lachapelle graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2018 with a B.A. in psychology and women’s studies and a minor in Arabic. She is self-employed in Rhode Island.

Clare Schneider graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a B.A. in Political Science. She currently works as a behavioral specialist in Rhode Island.

Melanie Shapiro opened the Law Office of Melanie Shapiro in 2014. She represents clients from 60 countries. She is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts, in the Federal District Court of Massachusetts, in Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the First Circuit Court of Appeals. She completed her Juris Doctorate at Roger Williams University School of Law, where she was a Public Interest Scholar. Attorney Shapiro graduated from University of Rhode Island summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies. She received the Robert A. Rainville Leadership Award, the President’s Award for Academic Excellence, and the Mother Jones Award. In 2014, Attorney Shapiro was named as a Pro bono Star by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers.

Donna M. Hughes, Ph.D. holds the Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies, and she is a professor of women’s studies and criminology and criminal justice at the University of Rhode Island. In 2018 she was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Annual Research Award. She is a member of the board of directors of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.


In 2013, research findings by Cunningham and Shah claimed that rape and sexually transmitted diseases were reduced by decriminalized prostitution in Rhode Island. The original unpublished claims have received wide media coverage which have gone unexamined. This review finds errors in their analyses. One error is the date when prostitution was decriminalized in Rhode Island. Cunningham and Shah claim that prostitution was decriminalized in 2003. Our analysis finds the date of decriminalization of prostitution was 1980. The change in the start date of decriminalization significantly alters the analysis and the findings. Another error results from Cunningham and Shah using an outlier data point to define a period of analysis. The results of this review call into question the claims that the decriminalization of prostitution reduced rape and sexually transmitted disease.

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