Sex Work

'Honey, I Lost the Car' Because D.C.'s Prostitution Police Stole It

D.C. lawmakers target street prostitution, dirt bikes, and campus rape.

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Jack Evans/Twitter

A D.C. Council member wants to take a page from Spokane, Washington, and several other cities and start impounding the cars of people suspected of soliciting prostitution. Councilman Jack Evans, who introduced the measure, is calling this rights-infringing nonsense the "Honey, I lost the car" program. As with the Spokane law, it wouldn't matter whether the person is eventually convicted of any crime or not; if you look to some cops like you're cruising for sex, that's all the probable cause they need to snatch your vehicle. 

 From NBC 4 D.C.

The intent is to deter people because they'd be embarrassed to lose their vehicle, Evans said. The Democrat said people from out of state have been driving to downtown Washington to solicit prostitutes.

Evans pushed through a similar bill 10 years ago that called for police to arrange for cars to be towed by another city agency, but he said it hasn't been sufficiently enforced.

With no evidence to back up this assertion, Evans claimed that D.C. has seen "an enormous increase in street prostitution." Considering myriad studies have shown street prostitution decreasing with the rise of online advertising for sex, I find it incredibly dubious. But this is a good reminder to all the folks who think shutting down sites like Backpage.com, where sex workers frequently advertise, will somehow stop prostitution rather than sending many workers and "johns" back out onto the streets. 

"Since the early 1990's, failed tactics at making the District less attractive for prostitution have ranged from outlawing right-turns on certain streets to, on one night, just marching sex workers across to Virginia," notes Will Sommer of Washington City Paper

Other proposals before the D.C. Council yesterday including increasing penalties for riding dirt bikes on city streets to a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail for a first offense; shutting down certain city streets to make it easier to build a new soccer stadium; and requiring colleges to put a permanent "Scarlet Letter" on the academic transcripts of students found guilty of sexual misconduct.