S.F. Voters to Decide on Decriminalizing Prostitution
Proposition K, on the San Francisco ballot in November, would decriminalize prostitution. The L.A. Times reports it is dividing the city's liberal community.
Sex workers, the county Democratic committee and a health official support Proposition K as a boon to prostitutes' and the public's safety. The mayor, the D.A. and the business community oppose it.
....Proposition K would ban San Francisco police from using any public resources to investigate or prosecute sex workers on prostitution charges. Critics say the law would attract pimps, human smugglers and others who profit from the sex trade.
I'm in favor of decriminalization.
Proposition K, which would shift the city's focus from prosecuting prostitution to pursuing those who prey on sex workers and increasing public health outreach. The goal, [proponent Patricia]West says, is to reduce violence against women and improve the health of sex workers and their clients.
"It's a morally based, antiquated law," she said. "Decriminalize prostitution and you bring it out of the underground and off the black market. That way you can start organizing, clean up the dangerous elements. Sex workers want safe streets like everyone else."
11 Nevada counties and the state of Rhode Island have similar laws. As for those who argue it would increase STD's, the evidence elsewhere is to the contrary:
The city's Erotic Service Provider's Union, which spearheaded the initiative, argues that in countries such as the Netherlands, New Zealand and Thailand, where payment for sex is allowed, sex workers are more likely to use condoms and have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris argues:
"Prostitution is not a victimless crime," said Harris, the district attorney. "It's a crime that victimizes neighborhoods and plagues communities and compromises the quality of life of the people who live in those neighborhoods. This measure would prohibit us from putting public resources into helping those residents. And that's not acceptable in this community."
Shades of the broken windows "quality of life" theory of policing. No thank you, Ms. Harris.
This strikes me as similar to the initiative that passed in Denver that makes pot smoking the lowest law enforcement priority. It's not legalization, it's removing the criminal penalty. We don't need to be jailing sex workers, only those that physically abuse them.
Nor should we be spending our limited criminal justice resources on prosecuting them. Even for those who are not jailed, there are costs incurred with supervising them on probation. A portion of the cops' salaries is spent making the bust, writing up the reports and appearing in court as witnesses.
It's also contrary to the public interest to saddle the sex workers with a criminal record, thereby hindering their ability to switch to more societally acceptable jobs to support themselves.
Legalization would have additional problems and create more government bureaucracy. The solution in my view, whether it's pot smoking, prostitution or abortion, is simple: Keep your laws off our bodies. Adults should have the right to make their own decisions.
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