Oct 08, 2017 Virginia criminal lawyer says legalize prostitution to enhance civil liberties
Why should prostitution be legalized?
As a Virginia criminal lawyer who defends people charged with soliciting and offering prostitution, I know the importance of having a more just and free society by shrinking our overgrown and over-policed criminal justice system. Among the ways to shrink the criminal justice system is to legalize such minor current criminal activity as marijuana, prostitution, and gambling. Not only does such legalization shrink the criminal justice system, but it also enhances our civil liberties, in that even those who are not interested in indulging in such activities experience enhanced civil liberties when the government is clamping down less on these and other personal decisions in our lives.
After decades of advocacy and sweat equity, marijuana legalization and decriminalization advocates have made tremendous inroads with nationwide legalization of medicinal marijuana, decriminalization and in some states legalization. The same inroads can be achieved with prostitution, except that such legalization advocates face more of an uphill battle than marijuana legalization advocates for such reasons as opposition to such activity on moral grounds, opposition to providers walking the streets in people’s neighborhoods, reluctance of providers to make their identities known as they advocate for legalizing such activity, a much smaller base of advocates for legalizing such activity than for legalizing marijuana (with marijuana businesses funding plenty of ongoing marijuana legalization efforts), and much less money available for promoting and lobbying for legalizing such activity.
The sky will not fall by legalizing prostitution
Nonetheless, inroads can be made to legalize prostitution. We start with the model of the Nevada counties that for decades have regulated and permitted prostitution. The sky has not fallen there nor in the dozens of nations that allow such activity, and will not fall anywhere else where such activity is legalized. Next, we need to encourage politicians to have the courage to pursue marijuana legalization and to vocally support their efforts. One regional politician who has been advocating for prostitution legalization is At-large District of Columbia Councilmember David Grosso, who recently proposed a draft bill to legalize such activity. The District of Columbia having recently legalized possession of marijuana for use in private, the possible passage of Grosso’s bill is a real possibility.
Prostitution legalization should become contagious
If such activity becomes legal in the District of Columbia and sees few ill social effects from such a change, hopefully Virginia’s lawmakers will be similarly emboldened to decriminalize or legalize such activity in Virginia, where a conviction for soliciting or providing prostitution services remains a Class 1 misdemeanor, jailable up to one year, with a fine up to $2500. Also, in such counties as Fairfax, Virginia, law enforcement has a penchant for siphoning off our limited law enforcement funds to stage stings of such activity, when police resources are better directed to more serious crimes.
It is time to legalize prostitution.
Virginia criminal lawyer Jon Katz‘s work includes defense of sex crimes, prostitution solicitation and provision, child pornography and obscenity. On the prostitution front, Jon is a past board member and officer of Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, advocating for harm reduction for sex workers. For a confidential consultation with Jon, please call his staff at 703-383-1100.