This article explores the socio-legal dynamics and implications of the `John School' diversion programme for prostitution offenders in Toronto, Canada. The analysis is based on quantitative and qualitative data collected as part of an evaluation study of the programme conducted between 1999 and 2001. The analysis begins by exploring the socio-political forces that have shaped prostitution control in Canada over the last century and ultimately led to the emergence of the `John School' as a reform compromise. The article subsequently investigates the particular role of `victims' discourses within the rationale and practices of the `John School' initiative. It traces the ambiguous nature of the programme's objectives by contrasting its widely promoted `educational' and `constructive' aims with the more punitive qualities that emerge in practice. Drawing from the critical literature on informal justice and diversion, it is evidenced that the programme focuses disproportionately on participants from lower socio-economic classes. Serious questions are also raised with regards to `due process'. Particular attention is given to the requirement by participants to waive basic procedural rights in return for admission in the `John School' programme and the subsequent withdrawal of criminal charges. The degree of `choice' involved in accepting these conditions is evaluated with regard to the specific characteristics of the target population. Policy implications are discussed.