Legal Ethics

New California Law Decriminalizes Underage Prostitution
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child prostitution

Summary: California will no longer arrest or charge minors engaging in prostitution in an attempt to protect child sex trafficking.

California put law SB 1322 into effect January 1. The law decriminalizes prostitution for minors, which some see as the legalization of child sex trafficking. State Republican assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach took to The Washington Examiner in an op-ed to call attention to what he views as a flawed law.

  
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Allen discusses in his op-ed that “teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution.” The goal of the law is to protect underage sex trafficking victims by making crimes like prostitution and loitering with intent to commit prostitution inapplicable to minors.

Democratic Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles introduced the bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed on September 26. The bill states, “This bill would make the above provisions [of existing law making it a crime to solicit or engage in any fact of prostitution and loiter for intent to commit prostitution] inapplicable to a child under 18 years of age who is alleged to have engaged in conduct that would, if committed by an adult, violate the above provisions. The bill would authorize the minor to be taken into temporary custody under limited circumstances.”

Mitchell emphasized in a clarification of the bill on Twitter that “What this new law does is have law enforcement or a judge place underage victims of commercial sexual exploitation with California’s Department of Social Services, rather than arrest and charge minors with prostitution.”

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Allen added in his op-ed that he believes that Democrats “mean well” but that the best intentions are sometimes “misguided”. He anticipates that minors will be pushed into prostitution since they won’t be arrested for engaging in such actions.

Several District attorneys’ offices have expressed hesitation towards the new law only because they fear the proper outlets are not ready to provide adequate services yet. Jane Creighton, coordinator of the human trafficking unit at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said, “Right now, service groups are struggling with what they have in place – there are just not enough resources. I am not saying these bills should never pass. But we are not ready for them.”



Do you think the state will be prepared to provide services to all the victims of underage sex trafficking? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about sex trafficking, read these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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