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November 2, 2008

Another notable criminal justice ballot proposition to watch in San Francisco

This New York Times article, headlined "San Francisco’s Prostitutes Support a Proposition," provides a thoughtful review of another ballot initiative dealing with an interesting set of criminal justice issues.  Here are excerpts:

When Proposition K was added to Tuesday’s ballot, many people likely snickered at the possibility that San Francisco might take its place alongside such prostitute-friendly havens as Amsterdam and a few rural counties in nearby Nevada.

But this week, it became readily apparent that city officials are not laughing anymore about the measure, which would effectively decriminalize the world’s oldest profession in San Francisco. At a news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Gavin Newsom and other opponents seemed genuinely worried that Proposition K might pass....

Supporters of the measure say it is a long-overdue correction of a criminal approach toward prostitutes, which neither rehabilitates nor helps them, and often ignores their complaints of abuse....

The language in Proposition K is far-reaching. It would forbid the city police from using any resources to investigate or prosecute people who engage in prostitution. It would also bar financing for a “first offender” program for prostitutes and their clients or for mandatory “re-education programs.”

One of the measure’s broadest prohibitions would prevent the city from applying for federal or state grants that use “racial profiling” in anti-prostitution efforts, an apparent reference to raids seeking illegal immigrants....

Supporters of the measure accuse the city of profiting from prostitution through fines. They also imply that laws against prostitution are inherently racist because minorities are disproportionately arrested. Proposition K, they say, will increase safety for women, save taxpayer money, and cut down on the number of murders of prostitutes at the hands of serial killers....

Anti-Proposition K forces paint grim pictures of girls and women from across the country held against their will in dark and dangerous brothels here, forced into unsafe sexual behavior, and often beaten, intimidated and raped....

The measure seems particularly abhorrent to San Francisco’s district attorney, Kamala D. Harris, who has made fighting human trafficking a priority. “I think it’s completely ridiculous, just in case there’s any ambiguity about my position,” Ms. Harris said. “It would put a welcome mat out for pimps and prostitutes to come on into San Francisco.”

Central to Ms. Harris’s objections is the theory that prostitution is a victimless crime. Instead, she said, it exposes prostitutes to drug, gun and sexual crimes, and “compromises the quality of life in a community.” She also dismisses the argument that prostitutes would be more likely to come forward if their business were not illegal.

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November 2, 2008 at 07:25 AM | Permalink

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Propositioning people is what prostitutes do for a living, of course, but not usually on this scale. The hookers of the City by the Bay want the people of San Francisco to de facto legalize their trade by approving Proposition... [Read More]

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Comments

Why would there be pimps if prostitution is legalized and prostitutes no longer have to restort to non-official channels to help enforce bad debts, violent customers, etc? It's like saying drug dealers want drugs to be legalized. Yeah right, they'll all be out of business overnight when you can buy Phizer Cocaine at WalMart for $9.95 a pound - 100% pure and measured. People who claim otherwise are either stupid or intentionally lying to scare people. Usually the latter.

Pimps are horrified of this bill passing - they'll be out of work overnight. There are no pimps in those rural nevada counties the article discusses. Or in Amsterdam for that matter.

I hope they pass this - it would be a great start towards decriminalizing something that shouldn't be criminal in the first place, as well as empowering to women while also providing them safety from both cops and rapists.

Posted by: brucem | Nov 3, 2008 2:46:15 PM

On Tuesday, November 11th at 10 p ET Melissa Francis examines the world of high-end prostitution in the CNBC Original “Dirty Money: The Business of High-End Prostitution”. In every city in America sex is for sale and much of it operates in plain view. But, there’s one corner of the trade protected like none other... the business of high-end prostitution where clients can spend hundred of thousands of dollars each year. It’s a secret world with rules and practices that will change everything you think you know about the buying and selling of sex. Join Melissa as she ventures into this secret world.

For web extras visit http://dirtymoney.cnbc.com.

Posted by: Joe.J | Nov 10, 2008 1:47:37 PM

"Why would there be pimps if prostitution is legalized and prostitutes no longer have to restort to non-official channels to help enforce bad debts, violent customers, etc?"

The legalization of prostitution does not mean that officers will set aside their moral values and run to catch the offender who either beat up on the prostitute or didn't pay lay/fellatio.

Posted by: | Nov 10, 2008 4:00:55 PM

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