Wait–Did California Just Decriminalize Child Prostitution?

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Sep 29, 2016 6:30 PM
Wait–Did California Just Decriminalize Child Prostitution?

I’m not so sure that this is a good idea, folks. I understand the reasons, but does anyone else think there is a better way to combat child prostitution? In California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown just signed legislation that decriminalized child prostitution in the state (via Sacramento Bee):

Cementing a major shift in how California handles sex crimes, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed legislation decriminalizing prostitution for minors.

By prohibiting law enforcement from arresting people under the age of 18 for soliciting or loitering with intent, Senate Bill 1322 effectively shields those young people from criminal penalties. Advocates argued that young sex workers should be treated as victims, not criminals.

[…]

While embracing the idea of treating young sex workers as victims, law enforcement groups warned that removing penalties would remove a crucial tool for detaining young people and keeping them away from their abusers.

For any lawyer, wouldn’t any levelheaded prosecuting attorney exhibit some discretion over whether to charge an abused 15-year-old girl with solicitation? Like most policies coming out of California, it shouldn’t shock us if this move backfires, which will have tragic consequences. We’ll see how this works out, though the notion of decriminalizing this horrific enterprise seems to be done without much foresight.