Bill banning arrests for prostitution-related vagrancy moves to governor’s desk

A bill to ban arrests for “vagrancy with intent to prostitute” was sent to the governor’s office on Monday, nine months after it was passed by both houses of the state legislature.

Senate Bill 357, drafted by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would repeal all laws prohibiting loitering in a public place with the intent to prostitute oneself, or directing, supervising, recruiting or assisting a person who loiters with the intent to prostitute oneself, or to collect or receive all or part of the proceeds of an act of prostitution. In addition, those convicted of loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution can apply to court to quash and seal their offense or obtain a new conviction.

Senator Wiener had drafted the bill because the bill discriminates against black women, Latino women and transgender people and unfairly targets them. When he introduced the SB 357 last yearhe also said that criminalizing sex workers does not make communities safer, that it does nothing to stop sex crimes against sex workers and that sex workers also deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

“We are experiencing a terrifying epidemic of violence against trans women of color, and we must be proactive in improving their safety,” the senator explained last year in A declaration. “Our laws should protect the LGBTQ community and communities of color, not criminalize sex workers, trans people, and brown and black people for walking around or dressing a certain way. New York has led the way and shown that it is high time to end this discriminatory targeting of alleged sex workers. We need to stop allowing law enforcement to harass trans women of color on our streets. We must stand with trans women of color and sex workers, and stand with all people who fight for autonomy and safety and against racist and transphobic discrimination.

Critics have noted that legalized prostitution without penalties actually drastically increases human traffickingthe bill adding to the series of arrest deductions in California that led to a surge in crime in cities across the state. Others fear that SB 357 will also lead to the decriminalization of prostitution in the future.

“This bill seems to be perfect if you want sex trafficking to increase even in California,” California Family Council spokesman Greg Burt said. “This bill is really going to affect poor neighborhoods – it won’t affect the neighborhoods where these lawmakers live.”

Frank Ma, a former police officer turned security consultant in San Francisco, added in an interview with The Globe that “this bill is reckless and dangerous. We have seen the correlation between reduced prostitution laws and higher crime rates, especially human trafficking, for some time now. This bill has nothing to do with discrimination or trying to make our cities safer [Wiener] claims. This can only lead to more crime, which is exactly the last thing California needs right now. »

A nine-month wait before being sent to Governor Newsom

Despite strong opposition, SB 357 spent both chambers last year. While Republicans in both houses utterly opposed it, with many Democrats joining GOP leaders in voting no or abstaining, the bill eventually passed, with the Senate’s final vote of 26 against. 9 with 5 abstentions and the Assembly vote coming to a close. 41-29 with 10 abstentions.

However, with such a close vote, Senator Wiener stopped the bill from going to Newsom last year, wanting more time to help show how banning loitering with the intent to prostitute was good policy and consistent with California values. Much to the chagrin of supporters, the public discourse has only shifted further to issues of crime. Once for more progressive policies, citizens have now rallied behind them as they have led to a sharp increase in crime due to the relaxation of arrest and jail time laws, as well as other policies. which make it more difficult for many criminals to be prosecuted.

“Today we send Governor SB 357, which passed last year,” tweeted Senator Wiener Monday. “SB 357 repeals the crime of ‘loitering with intent to prostitute’. An officer can arrest someone based on their appearance. Arrests target trans women/women of color. It’s time to repeal it.

“It seems risky,” Ma added. “Wiener seems to know that his window to push this through is closing and that understanding he’s wanted for the past nine months just hasn’t happened with all the trepidation. against crime. Now, many of the vulnerable lawmakers this election have their reputations on the line by having their names attached to voting on this. And Newsom too. He’s a bit of a shoemaker, but if he signs that, [GOP Gubernatorial candidate] Dahle will have a very good piece of evidence to show how low on crime Newsom is. Wiener may have waited until after the primary to send him, in fact he probably did, but it’s still very risky to sign this.

On Monday afternoon, Governor Newsom did not say whether or not he would sign the bill.

Comments are closed.