Sex Work

California Moves to End Mandatory Jail Time for Prostitution

A good move backed by bad reasoning

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Steve Rhodes/Flickr

Good news on the prostitution-decriminalization front is pretty hard to come by these days, especially in states like California, Texas, and Washington where stopping "human trafficking" has turned into a full-blown war on consenting adults selling and paying for sex. But wonder of wonders, the California legislature is actually considering a measure that would reduce the criminal penalties for sex workers, including repealing the current mandatory minimum jail sentences for repeat prostitution offenders.

Under current California law, anyone convicted of a second prostitution offense must serve at least 45 days in jail, with subsequent convictions mandating at least 90 days jail time. Offenders may also have their driver's licenses suspended for up to six months.

The California Senate has already approved a measure to abolish these mandatory minimum penalties and the licence suspension provision, with Democrats largely in favor and Republicans largely opposed. The bill is now headed to the state Assembly.

But—of course there's a but, right?—the bill isn't all sunshine and lollipops from a feminist, libertarian, or sex-worker rights perspective. The reason its sponsor, Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), gives for favoring reduced penalties isn't because he believes adults should have the right to enter into consensual sexual relationships without state interference. Rather, it's predicated on a belief that women lack sexual and moral agency.

Mandatory minimum jail sentences for prostitution is a "flawed policy," he said, because the women selling sex are "victims of human trafficking." He's not hoping for less arrests and prosecution of sex workers, he just wants those convicted to be sent to "diversion" programs. Right now, with the mandatory minimums, judges are forced to sentence repeat prostitution offenders to jail; now they can give them the option of attending bullshit propaganda programs and only send them to jail if they decline the "help."

The bulk of the prostitution diversion programs that I've read about (and I think that's most of them) are run by religious groups, offering a hefty dose of moral condemnation along with their alleged aid. Or they're focused on things like yoga and meditation and teaching women why they're better than selling sex. Unfortunately, these programs tend to provide women with little in the way of job training, job placement assistance, or any other practical components. They require an intensive time commitment (usually at least several hours a day, every day, for a few weeks), which makes sticking to the programs difficult for those who have children or are trying to work a "real" job. The rate of completion of these programs is low, and those who drop out risk being thrown in jail anyway.

But who cares if it actually helps, right? For politicians, it's attaching one's name to a bill that counts. Right now, California lawmakers have introduced so many human-trafficking bills that they've become redundant, with a slew of overlapping bills covering the same legal territory. There are currently some 25 to 30 bills related to human trafficking in the Assembly alone, according to Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

You might think legislators would simply be happy to have the issue addressed, and some sponsors of the overlapping measures would drop theirs and band together on one bill. But that, of course, would preclude each sponsor from getting the credit for Doing! Something! about a high-profile, good-PR issue.

"Invariably, there's not coordination," California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) told the Voice of San Diego. "Everybody wants to do something."

Because none of these shameless grandstanding hypocrites dedicated lawmakers will actually withdraw their bills and risk losing the do-gooder credit, the bills are currently being held and sorted out by the Assembly's appropriations committee.

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  1. So they legalize prostitution and then arrest these victims of human trafficking. I see.

  2. Offenders may also have their licenses suspended for up to six months.

    Wait. CA licenses prostitutes?

      1. They need a driver’s license to ride prostitutes? Are they subject to DUI penalties?

      2. Lighten up, ENB. Always assume snarky trolling from the commentariat.

        1. I did assume snarky trolling! But also probably worth clarifying in the text, which I did.

    1. So, if you have a learner’s permit, your mother has to be with you?

      1. Yes, but it costs double.

    2. Wait. CA licenses prostitutes?

      If true, would this really be surprising?

      1. If by ‘prostitute’ you mean ‘arranges flowers for money’, then the answer is yes.

      2. It would be surprising to the extent they’d be licensing them to do something illegal. But, as a concept, I’m sort of surprised that they don’t license porn performers.

        1. Don’t give them ideas…

  3. consenting adults selling and exchanging sex.

    Exchanging sex? Looks like the sharing economy comes to sexual favors. I’ll knock up your shelf if you let me… er.

    1. should be paying for, obviously. thanks/fixed.

      1. Honestly, I thought this was something new. Gives a whole new dimension to “Maytag Man.”

        1. Like this isn’t the plot of several thousand porn movies already.

  4. But they have to “Send a Message”!

    1. Why not send a massage, instead? Like a happy ending Candygram.

  5. Q) What did the leper say to the prostitute?

    A) Keep the tip.

    *rimshot*

    1. Wait, who got the rimshot?

      1. That was rimshot, not rimjob.

        1. Aka glazing the donut?

    2. How is the supposed to pull the penis tip out of her anus?

  6. Prostitutes? Fuck ’em!

    /conservatives

  7. it’s predicated on a belief that women lack sexual and moral agency

    Progressivism 101

    1. Well yeah, they’re women and are thus incapable of making such decisions for themselves. The only thing a woman is capable of deciding is if she wants a man to pay for her child or if she wants an abortion. That’s it.

  8. Actually the “prostitution diversion programs” are really just ‘sex trafficking indoctrination’ programs. It’s based on the 12 Step model – admit you were ‘in denial’ that you were being ‘sex trafficked’ all along. Nevertheless, this is progress. Because it’s not hard to combat this type of propaganda simply by investigating it. That’s how the 12 Step model was debunked, as well as Scientology for the most part. Anyone who still buys into those things has only themselves to blame (or credit).

    1. You can’t “debunk” the 12-Step program as that doesn’t even make any sense. You have to take specific claims and debunk them individually.

      A lot of people find it a useful program to achieve sobriety. And a lot don’t. It’s a mental framework to approach a problem, not a promise of salvation.

      1. So you are a Stepper. Why am I not surprised?

      2. But…I thought the premise was that you must first achieve salvation then fix your addiction? I mean, I haven’t done the program but I thought one of the steps was accepting Christ or something.

  9. He’s not hoping for less arrests and prosecution of sex workers, he just wants those convicted to be sent to “diversion” programs.

    So, still a crime. Just that now the Cop-Industrial Complex will sprout a new division, fully staffed with tax parasites.

    For Great Liberty!

    1. It’s worse than that – if they send you to jail you can still hang on to the “they can lock up my body but my mind is still free” attitude to keep yourself sane, but they are determined to torment you until you repent and confess your sins and embrace the Inquisitor. They don’t want your body, they want your soul and your mind. It’s a “it’s not enough to say you love Big Brother, you must mean it” sort of thing. The re-education camps are not punishment, they are for your own good and you just don’t know how much it pains these people to know that you think of it as punishment when they love you so much that they will do anything – up to and including killing you – to show their love by training you in the ways that you should go. They just want what’s best for you.

      1. Point well taken, J.

  10. These brave, strong, courageous, confident, empowered women can do anything a man can do, and probably better, except be responsible for their actions.

  11. “Because none of these shameless grandstanding hypocrites dedicated lawmakers will actually withdraw their bills and risk losing the do-gooder credit, the bills are currently being held and sorted out by the Assembly’s appropriations committee.”

    This statement is entirely accurate, but isn’t this simply the political equivalent of the “invisible hand”? If business folks aren’t expected to consciously cooperate for the common good, why should politicians?

    1. “Expect”‘s got nothing to do with it.

    2. God! You are such a mouth-breathing moron, Vanneman that it makes my head hurt!

      If business folks aren’t expected to consciously cooperate for the common good, …

      The whole point, you drooling simpleton is that people acting on their own self interest, find ways to cooperate with other people to advance that self interest that benefit the common good. Whether the cooperation is conscious or unconscious is irrelevant you spit-covered imbecille.

      … why should politicians

      Ah, I see! YOu’re saying that since businessmen are stupid, we shouldnt’ expect politicians not to be stupid. It’s a pathetic attempt at false equivalency.

      Your arguments are stupidly crafted as if you flunked out of elementary school. Have you considered finding a 6th grader of average intelligence and asking him to be your teacher? Why don’t you go off and do that and stop embarrassing your mother by shouting to the world that she raised someone too stupid to hack it as a village idiot in Texas.

      1. You left out “And may God have mercy on your soul.”

        A rant that epic deserves a cherry on top.

      2. I think Texas takes issue with the ending of this rant. Our village idiots likely don’t hold a candle to San Francisco idiots.

    3. If business folks aren’t expected to consciously cooperate for the common good, why should politicians?

      Just out of curiosity where is the oath of office “business folks” take? Maybe your time would be better spent fluffing your Amazon reviews champ?

  12. State Senator Bill Monning has 100% ratings on the progressive social issues.

  13. Victims of their lack of employ-ability and, let’s face it, their vaginal urges. Prison doesn’t help with those two things at all!

  14. The bulk of the prostitution diversion programs that I’ve read about […] are run by religious groups, offering a hefty dose of moral condemnation along with their alleged aid. Or they’re focused on things like yoga and meditation and teaching women why they’re better than selling sex. Unfortunately, these programs tend to provide women with little in the way of job training, job placement assistance, or any other practical components

    Women’s shelters, OTOH, do often provide just that type of practical assistance as do many state-level programs.

    sticking to the programs difficult for those who have children or are trying to work a “real” job. The rate of completion of these programs is low, and those who drop out risk being thrown in jail anyway.

    But who cares if it actually helps, right?

    I’m not sure leaving a woman with children to the whoring industry is much in the way of caring, myself.

    I don’t see much that’s moral about throwing these folk in prison but I will never understand the animus that some libertarians have against 12-step programs, diversion programs, and the like. Very few people willingly choose a life of prostitution for themselves, still less would willingly choose to have their parent be a whore. It isn’t coercive to provide people with alternatives or to structure programs around the premise that certain willingly chosen actions can be harmful to the person and those close to them.

    1. I will never understand the animus that some libertarians have against 12-step programs, diversion programs, and the like.

      Voluntary treatment, I got no beef with. Whatever works for you, yo.

      Mandatory re-education? Fuck that. In some ways, its worse than prison. See Jerryskids up above.

    2. Fuck you and your “caring”, slaver.

  15. til I looked at the check 4 $4775 , I did not believe …that…my mother in law actualy taking home money in there spare time on their apple labtop. . there uncle has been doing this for only about 16 months and just cleared the mortgage on there apartment and purchased opel .
    Check This Out??????? http://www.ny-reports.com

  16. Screw this shit, I would tell the judge to screw off, I rather sit in jail than listen to some do gooder lecture me. They don’t seem to care that women end up being displaced by arrests and diversion programs because FAKE SERVICES DOESN”T PAY THE RENT

    Welcome to Whore Court

    http://www.vice.com/read/sex-w…..0550-v22n1

  17. That might be a good idea for 1st-offenders, but absent a complete rewrite of the “public decency” laws, it would fail big-time for repeat offenders.
    Here’s a radical idea: Let’s put it up to a vote of the People, just like Cannabis, and abide by their decision…..
    then shut the …. up!

  18. My 82 year old father would go for that! He thinks it might even decrease sex crimes!

  19. It is truly strange that the self righteous think they can “save” the women involved! They cannot even save themselves without, truly, knowing the basis for their own religion! We can save no one. We certainly should not be condemning them, either!

  20. “But who cares if it actually helps, right? For politicians, it’s attaching one’s name to a bill that counts. ”
    That pretty much sums up the bulk of American government… including the stupidity of the average voter.

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