Monday, August 01, 2011

prostitution fine?

the indy star has the latest about a local prostitution sting where prostitutes are fined for code enforcement violations:

Arrest a hooker, and she will face a night in jail and, in some cases, a small fine. But write her a ticket, and she'll face a fine of up to $2,500 and a court order to find a new line of work.

City Prosecutor Helen Marchal said the fines are up to $7,500 for repeat offenders. The typical fine is about $500.

"With the civil case, you really hurt them by dipping into their pocketbooks," Marchal said. "If the arrest doesn't act as a deterrent, maybe the fine will."

A city ordinance requires escorts to get a license. An escort license is $103 for a person. Licensed escorts also must work for a city-approved escort agency, which needs a separate license that costs $319.

Because the city has no licensed escorts, Code Enforcement administrator Adam Collins said, any working in Indianapolis are violating the ordinance.

this makes no sense. the city budget is a wreck, with less revenue coming in every year. the mayor is desperately scouring the budget for "fluff" and selling off hunks of infrastructure just to get money to pave the streets and fix our overflowing sewers. so why we do have a law that allows the city to issue escort licenses if we're never going to issue any licenses? the city could be generating extra revenue just by following the laws that are already on the books.

if prostitution is truly such a terrible moral scourge on our community, then just increase the criminal penalties. don't fine people for not having a license that the city refuses to issue—that's hypocritical government.

update: paul ogden has more about why this is bad policy:

Unfortunately the reporter missed a critical part of the strategy involved in the City's treating this as a civil ordinance violation rather as a criminal offense - most of the constitutional protections that apply to protect someone charged with a crime, doesn't apply if the City treats the offenses as civil ordinance violation.

indeed, the star story even acknowledges that one person caught by the sting refused to participate in a sex act with the undercover officers but was still ticketed... despite committing no crime.


James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Shades of the rampant Satanist sacrificing of Christian babies, an urban legend which ran like wildfire through police departments in the 80s: the impetus for this seems to be a speech a few weeks back from some anti-sex group with a Dallas PD connection, full of horror stories of pre-teen sex slave rackets run amok at last year's Super Bowl. (The locals have apparently decided to keep the underage trafficking thing sorta quiet for the moment, since it doesn't justify any action they could take right now. But somebody in the Star story did mention how women may slide into part-time prostitution, but they wind up working for Mr. Big.)

Actual number of arrests of underage sex-slaves brought into Dallas for last year's Super Bowl? Did you have "zero" in the pool?

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