New Jersey's underground commercial sex economy is alive and well, generating hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

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A new study released by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center finds prostitutes are increasingly using the Internet to conduct business.

"When you're on the street you can't hide from law enforcement, and when someone pulls up in a car you have to make that quick decision about whether or not you're going to get in," said Meredith Dank, senior research associate for the Urban Institute. "However on the Internet, women are able to do a slightly better job of vetting their clients for better protection."

She said another advantage of doing business online is money.

"They're able to command a much higher price on the Internet as opposed to the street, because on the Internet you're charging primarily by time increments," Dank said, "whereas on the street you're primarily charging by sex act."

Dank said even though pimps are frequently in direct competition with each other, many of them in different parts of New Jersey are forming partnerships.

"That way when they did want to travel, they can call upon that other pimp from that other city, and ask them to take 'the temperature' -- what's law enforcement like in that other city, what's the demand like, so they're able to pass this information along to one another through these informal channels," Dank said.

The study also finds some pimps, as their business grows larger and larger, call on friends and family members to act as facilitators or helpers, employing them as drivers and bodyguards.

"Pimps, as businessmen, are always looking to get a better deal to pay less," said Dank, "so by establishing partnerships and relationships with rental car companies and hotels, they're able to give them a lot of business but also reduce the amount of money you're spending in operating and overhead costs."

She added traditionally we may think of pimps using a severe amount of physical abuse to keep prostitutes in line, but that's frequently not the case anymore.

"The pimps that we interviewed specifically talked about the use of psychological manipulation, coercion and extortion," she said.