Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
California is poised to ban prostitution-related loitering arrests (lamag.com)
41 points by thinkingemote 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 118 comments

What a stupendously stupid idea. Street-prostitution (street-walking) is the most dangerous form of prostitution by far.

If you want to decriminalise sex work, then decriminalise sex work. In Australia (at least in Victoria) brothels are legal but street-walking certainly isn't. It is a magnet for all sorts of crime and just unsightly to have on the streets.

It’s similar to why using drugs shouldn’t be a crime.

It is society’s job to make sure people don’t become heroin addicts but we shouldn’t persecute those that do.

> It is society’s job to make sure people don’t become heroin addicts but we shouldn’t persecute those that do.

Then society is asked to fork over a lot of resources to rehabilitate addicts as it is their responsibility for them getting addicted. Criminalization of hard drug use in that case is simply an attempt to save money.

The current fentanyl epidemic in drug decriminalized Seattle is an example of how messed up decriminalization can get. The resulting society costs (including a rise in property and violent crime) then lead to a backlash on decriminalization and we should be back to square one shortly in an election or two.

I absolutely consider rehabilitation to be like healthcare and as such should be provided at little or no cost. There can be private options of course as well as public.

I’m not familiar with what you refer to in Canada. In any case I absolutely don’t want hard drugs to be legalised and marketed like alcohol, I’m talking about something like clinics providing for free in proper doses for those that come seeking. It’s fine to have harsh penalties for those that try to supply outside of that.

Seattle is in the USA.

Drug rehabilitation costs for fentanyl are very costly and most of those people aren’t coming back even with those resources. They are simply gone.

Rehab isn’t free, and I don’t think we can afford it on a large scale. People eventually have to take responsibility for their decisions, and the no coming back aspect is definitely a deterrent (whenever we encounter a person in crisis, which sadly is often these days, I make a point of telling my 5 year old that this is where drugs get you).

> People eventually have to take responsibility for their decisions

I also want to point out that this is a huge cop-out, pun absolutely intended. If you put in people in prison, you are effectively putting them in rehab unless you're planning on giving prisoners fentanyl.

Rehab is very often the way that people address really serious drug problems, even when they're taking responsibility themselves for the treatment. Saying that rehab is too expensive for the state to bear is effectively saying that these people shouldn't go on rehab at all, because if the state can't afford it, then the broader community of drug-addicted unhoused people definitely can't.

Is the alternative that they just get left on the street? That's not what anybody wants, including the tough-on-crime people. I'm trying to figure out how someone can have a concern about the scalability of rehab and not have a concern about the scalability of prison/arrests, which are effectively trial costs + admin costs + housing costs + rehab costs + probation/enforcement costs.

The way I see it, if you've got someone on the street and they're drug addicted, you have basically two options: you can leave them on the street, or you can pay to get them off of the street. Telling them to have responsibility doesn't really solve the problem, if they're addicted to fentanyl that's probably not something they can fix on their own. In my mind, I see "tell them to take responsibility, it's not our problem to solve" as equivalent to "leave them on the street" -- and I don't think that's what most Californians want.


Like, some people support criminalization because they think that prison is a more effective rehabilitation. I think the evidence is kind of against them on that, but I at least understand the reasoning. And even those people would agree that as far as rehabilitation goes, prison is more expensive in the short term. They just argue that the long-term effectiveness for individuals/communities makes the long-term cost of prison/criminalization less in the long run. Which is again something people can debate, but it's a very different argument than telling people to "take responsibility" for themselves -- being imprisoned/arrested is pretty much by definition the state taking responsibility for you.

> I also want to point out that this is a huge cop-out, pun absolutely intended. If you put in people in prison, you are effectively putting them in rehab unless you're planning on giving prisoners fentanyl.

Ah, I think you missed what I wrote above: rehab often doesn't work. I didn't say what we should do afterwards, just that if you get involved in fentanyl, you have a good chance of simply never getting over that.

Rehab is not only expensive, it is not effective. There is also an element of individual choice: given a choice between going to rehab and staying on the streets so they can do more drugs, a lot of people simply don't want to bother with rehab. Throwing resources at these people...we can do, we are doing that, to the tune of ~$100k/year, but much of that is simply not effective because they aren't aligned with what the person under treatment wants. So you don't want to tell them to take responsibility, then what? Force rehab on them somehow since they aren't expected to do any effort in themselves? Can forced rehab work?

Criminalization of drugs is simply because (a) people don't make the best decisions, (b) we all have to pay for those mistakes. If you can't "take responsibility" for your own behavior, society has to take that responsibility for you.

> Criminalization of drugs is simply because (a) people don't make the best decisions, (b) we all have to pay for those mistakes

I don't understand how you think that criminalization means we don't have to pay for those mistakes. Putting people in prison is expensive, it isn't free. And then they eventually come out of prison. So unless you're planning on keeping them in prison indefinitely, you have just paid more money for what is effectively a temporary rehab. And if the plan is to keep them in indefinitely... that is very, very expensive to do.

> If you can't "take responsibility" for your own behavior, society has to take that responsibility for you.

But you're arguing we don't have means to do that. You're arguing that rehab doesn't work and is too expensive, and that instead we should put people in prison which will be... permanent rehab? Temporary rehab that also doesn't work? Except more expensive for the state?

The disconnect here is that you're arguing that we can't treat addiction because it's too expensive and doesn't work, and the alternative you're proposing is a system where we either temporarily or permanently take responsibility for someone's entire life, which is both wildly expensive for us to do, and in the case of temporary prison sentences is likely (and in fact when you look at the statistics on rehabilitation after prison, arguably more likely) to have the same outcome.

> I didn't say what we should do afterwards

I don't understand, what we do afterwards is the only part of this conversation that seems to actually matter. People are already on the street addicted to fentanyl, you can either leave them there or the state can try to expend money/resources getting them off of the street and dealing with that addiction. Telling them to have personal responsibility is leaving them there.

Which, fine, I guess, but again I just don't think that's an outcome most people in California (or anywhere else) want, regardless of how sympathetic they are or aren't towards those people.

If you think prison is effective rehab and that it's worth the increased cost, then fine, say that, but again, that's just a very, very different argument from saying that we should criminalize drug use because it's too expensive for the state to take responsibility for other people. Criminalizing drug use is the state taking responsibility for other people on the taxpayer's dollar.

> Putting people in prison is expensive, it isn't free.

Of course, it isn't free. It is cheaper than what we are currently accomplishing through the homeless industrial complex ($10k/month just for a place to park a derelict RV at a recent project), so let's not kid ourselves that prison is more expensive than the alternatives: it isn't. Someone inside also can get treatments and will find it much harder to acquire drugs (fentanyl is much more expensive in prison and very cheap outside of prison).

> But you're arguing we don't have means to do that.

No, we are arguing about where that responsibility should be taken: when they want to go to rehab (which they may never want), or before they actually start doing drugs.

> People are already on the street addicted to fentanyl, you can either leave them there or the state can try to expend money/resources getting them off of the street and dealing with that addiction.

We have fewer options than that. Usually its a combination of both: the state (actually the city) expends money to deal with the addiction, but they are back on the street in a couple of weeks because they want more drugs and we can't actually force them to let us deal with their addiction (no criminalization = no judge to force rehab, of course).

> If you think prison is effective rehab and that it's worth the increased cost

Prison is cheaper than what we are spending on the problem right now. We've passed that point a few years ago.

> so let's not kid ourselves that prison is more expensive than the alternatives: it isn't.

I don't think I've heard even the strictest pro-prison people try to seriously make the argument that prison is cheaper than housing for the same time periods of detention. Prison is really expensive, it's in a lot of ways a strict superset of housing. Even just holding people in preparation of a trial and getting them convicted is really expensive. Where are you getting these numbers from?

> No, we are arguing about where that responsibility should be taken

I mean, if you want to argue about that, sure. But my argument is that they're on the street right now and saying that they should have avoided getting addicted to drugs in the past is not particularly useful to the current conversation unless you have a time machine handy.

> no criminalization = no judge to force rehab, of course

Look, this is just a different argument. Are you arguing that rehab does actually work, but we need criminalization so we can force it? I have seen people argue that point, but it's not really an argument about personal responsibility, it's an argument that the state should have even more involvement in rehabilitation than it currently does.

It indeed is, I’m not sure how I messed that one up!

Regarding the cost, of course that should be taken into consideration but I don’t understand how it can be that expensive. Or rather, I understand how it can be but there is no good reason for it to be. The state has all means to commission drug manufacturers to provide it cheaply for this purpose. It is in fact very important that there exists no monetary incentive for any industry to sell drugs to these clinics.

Regarding people not coming back, that is incredibly tragic, yet it’s still better to keep them “contained” rather than leaving them to procure their next fix on their own by any means necessary.

You're a fool if you think anything related to health--or much of anything else, for that matter--is "free." I hope you have a fat wallet, because you're about to have it all stolen by the state to fund "free."

I never said free.

It may be of interest to you to learn there are a number of countries in the world that manage to provide their people with tax funded healthcare at little or no cost to recipients, without excessive taxation and while being generally pretty good places to live.

> The current fentanyl epidemic in drug decriminalized Seattle is an example of how messed up decriminalization can get.

Not going to get into a long conversation about it beyond just saying that this is a statement that needs a lot of qualifiers and shouldn't just be taken completely at face value. There are significant debates about what is fueling some of Seattle's current problems, and whatever people's ultimate opinions on who is right and wrong about those debates -- the debates do exist and should be taken somewhat seriously.

ISeattle's drug policies obviously have some effect on the rest of the city because of course crime policy will have some effect on a city in some kind of direction, but it's just a hugely complicated topic, and stuff like "a rise in property and violent crime" very clearly have multiple inputs playing into them and pretty obviously aren't solely the result of drug policy in a single city.

> There are significant debates about what is fueling some of Seattle's current problems, and whatever people's ultimate opinions on who is right and wrong about those debates

I only know what I see, I live in Ballard so most of our crime is driven by that segment of the population. I've caught more than a few prowling my car (I have an open garage). I have to dodge people in crisis often with extra care, I don't want to get a baseball bat to the head like that poor Amazonian in Belltown. I see shoplifting at Target with impunity, I saw a guy run out with two small TVs just a couple of weeks ago.

These people that are doing this look way drugged out. They look gone. It is not regular crime at all.

:shrug: This could be an enormously complicated conversation, but the short answer is that:

- There is debate about whether drug policy specifically is the primary cause of the various increases in drug usage that we've seen around the US.

- There is debate about whether drug addiction in cities like Seattle merely correlates with homelessness/crime or whether it is the primary causal effect.

- And there are also debates on various metrics that people use that lead even people who do believe there is a causal effect to disagree with each other about how significant they think that causal effect is.

And some people do believe that it's all a straight causal effect and there aren't any complications and banning the drugs will solve the problem; but there's enough debate about it from enough serious researchers and a large enough number of inputs going into the system that I think it's slightly hand-wavy to describe the relationship between specific drug policies and crime like it's an established and widely agreed on fact rather than a highly contested debate among various researchers.

Sure, I'm happy to let the decriminalization experiment play out somewhere else (e.g. in Oregon). But myself and everyone I know for that matter, are not optimistic that this is anything but a total disaster.

80% of opioid addicts in Switzerland are in treatment. Switzerland spends a lot less money on drug enforcement, punishment and treatment than the US does.

But these days, we apparently can't trust 'society' to make responsible choices about anything.

Instead we're supposed to trust ever-bigger governments (controlled by ever-bigger corporate interests) to make those choices for us, and restrict those scary dangerous freedoms that people once had.

No, we can’t. If there’s one thing that’s proven true throughout history, it’s that enforced laws are the only things that can reign in the small percentage of bad actors that impact society as a whole.

Unless we want vigilantism. Which we really do not.

The problem is when society tries to do it's job, someone comes up saying that you shouldn't moralise for a legal activity.

A tight society with a strict moral code (and it's enforcement in... communal style) would need no police and laws.

Look up and read “Meditations on Moloch”, and learn why this is absolutely not true.

Also, we did vigilantism. It’s really, really bad.

Exactly. Law with law making mechanism with safeguards is here for a reason. Yet many people want to go back to medieval style. Probably hoping they'd be the strong side.

Drugs should absolutely be illegal. This concept that some Nordic countries made all drugs legal and everything was great, is so naive. It's so freshman year of college.

Making drugs illegal is a major deterrent to doing drugs. Simple as that.

Doing drugs isn't really a problem. Having a problem with drugs is a problem made worse by prosecution of the problem.

Half of the US is on some form of amphetamine from middle school onwards. We don't have an issue with people taking drugs. We want them to take the right drugs and pay the right companies for them.

You might have a problem with 'drugs' but that's politics.

I'd agree with your premise that having a problem with drugs is the problem, but it's naive to treat all drugs are the same. There are some drugs that have outsized negative impacts on society. Also, what amphetamine is half the US on? Sounds a bit much like hyperbole.

Ah yes, that would explain the enormous raft of benefits that Portugal came into when it decriminalised drug use for personal amounts and would explain why the Prohibition Era was so wildly successful and free from downsides

Which drugs do you draw the line at? Coffee? Alcohol? Nicotine?

It's not clear to me that I should be punished for doing something that doesn't harm or affect others simply because they dislike it. It even seems a bit unreasonable, to be honest.

It does harm and affect others though. Depending on the drug & circumstances. But you can't just pretend that heroin users just carry on their lives like normal without negatively affecting anyone else.

Most heroin users with access to cheap medical grade heroin (medical grade heroin is cheap - we know this because it's in use in healthcare; e.g. the UK NHS prescribes it under the generic name diamorphine for a variety of uses, including post-op pain - in hospital only - in some cases) are perfectly able to carry on with their lives - and hold down jobs. With heroin as with most drugs the criminalisation is what is causing most - not all - of the harm.

To repeat the oldest point in the book.. should we ban alcohol too then? Or does that not affect people depending on the circumstances?

No because it isn't as addictive or harmful as other drugs. Yes it depends on the circumstances, but harder drugs are more likely to cause harm.

Yes I know about the David Nutt report. It's not remotely objective.

I draw the line at heroin in my personal usage too, so we're not of completely different minds. By your logic where should the line be drawn then? Genuine question. Is LSD fine? Ritalin? Coke? Meth?

There has to be an option between locking people up if they're trying to destroy their lives and standing around doing nothing - if not actively helping them.

The people wanting to use drugs would view "punished" as anything that gets in the way of them and their drug of choice. Saying it harms no one is to say that the person using isn't being harmed.

I have (though probably used to have more) libertarian sympathies but it seems like that falls down in a large number of hard cases. I don't want to run other people's lives any more then I want someone else to run mine but there's an extreme version of the libertarian argument that equates any help with control.

It’s a deterrent for some people sure, me included. But it doesn’t make them magically disappear, that’s just naive.

There will be a demand and there will be people fulfilling the demand. It’s much better to have the fulfillers regulated instead of it being a source of money and power for criminal organisations.

Just look at how well prohibition worked in the US.

> This concept that some Nordic countries made all drugs legal and everything was great

Nordic countries are actually rather (in)famously known in Europe as having strict drug laws.

> Making drugs illegal is a major deterrent to doing drugs.

Obviously, but people still do so many drugs, and the numbers are increasing. This is despite relatively very few countries actually even decriminalizing (_not_ legalizing) drugs.

From my own experience living in the Netherlands, weed being legal means tourists come to smoke it, but a lot of the Dutch are just completely uninterested, including teenagers. If you had given me easy to access cheap weed at 16 I would've been blazing all day, but I didn't come from a place where it's legal. Dutch teenagers did. Second order effects such as perception of drugs are a thing that must be considered as well.

No Nordic countries have made all drugs legal. If anything the nordic countries are behind the curve on decriminalisation and legalisation.

As for it being a deterrent, it may be for some, but the measure should not be drug use but harm, and what is abundantly clear is that criminalisation drives up crime, and causes substantial harm up to and including large numbers of deaths.

Keeping drugs illegal given the evidence we have of the harm it causes is deeply immoral.

In germany, using drugs is not illegal. Ownling, trading and producing drugs is illegal, though.

Would you mind providing some supporting arguments?

Most Americans either don't care or can't comprehend anything different, most of them can't see past their own mose

To be fair Americans have really big moses.

You mean to say they are big on Moses.

Oh man what a typo

Remember that story about how trains are constantly getting robbed in LA and the train tracks are littered with discarded packages?

It seems like the cops shouldn’t even have time to go around harassing prostitutes.

I mean, sure, don’t harass prostitutes. Ok. But how about enforcing some of the other laws?

They probably don’t have time and aren’t enforcing this law much anyways (this is the case here in Seattle). But the virtue points for repealing the law are still there for legislators who aren’t interested in actual improvements anyways.

KPIs? Much easier to catch an escort agent.

Basically. Cops don't care about actually stopping or preventing crime only about how arresting the bad poor people makes them look to their higher ups

More tickets more arrests more better, you get a promotion!

It's very similar to not promoting the software engineers that fix bugs, and keep everything stable, but promoting the ones gaming the metrics, when you think about it.


Senate Bill 357, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would revoke the state’s current law which bans loitering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution—a law that advocates say is “inherently discriminatory and targets people not for any action but simply how they look.” In turn, this has resulted in the disproportionate criminalization of trans, Black and Brown women, and has also perpetuated violence toward sex workers.

My personal opinion is that prostitution by any person under 25 or maybe even 30 should be illegal. Once your brain is mature—sure, go ahead and do it. My experience with former prostitutes who started out young was that they were unaware of the price they eventually paid for their actions. They were taken advantage of because they were at a disadvantage. If you’re over 25 or 30 go ahead. Before that, it’s just so likely to end up wrong.

We need one age when a child becomes a an adult. Otherwise we end up with college juniors who can't drink a beer and highschool freshman who receive capital sentences. In both circumstances it seems that the rights of the young were curtailed for the benefit of the old.

Does that include normalising the minimum age allowed for a US President? (Currently 35 years old)

I don’t believe in a one age fits all laws approach. Where I’m from, most things switch to adult at 18 - including drinking, voting, enlisting. Murder/criminal convictions are possible before that.

I don’t think a killer should go free just because they were were 10 years old when they abducted, tortured, mutilated and killed a toddler. And then went on to become a pedophile.


The President is an odd scenario in relation to other heads of state, however William Pitt the Younger was only 24 when he was Premier of the British Empire at one of its highest points. While the age requirement for the Presidency has been observed, that hasn't always been the case with senators (30) or representatives (25). The youngest senator in American history (John Eaton) was inducted at the age of 28, and the youngest representative (William Charles Cole Claiborne) at the age of 21.

I've seen a lot of discussions that tend to go with 25 as the age of maturity, based on studies of brain development. It seems to me that the ages for things (weapons, voting, marriage, joining the military, drugs [alcohol, cigarettes, etc], entering a strip club, being charged as an adult, and so on) have been determined/changed over time separately, and there are exceptions to each rule as well as different standards in different parts of the world. I agree that 25 is a good standard generally for many things- although I also think a very important discussion needs to be had about the subject.

It's almost like it being illegal (and yet also in massive demand) creates a culture of exploitation that damages people more than the actual work does.

> My experience with former prostitutes who started out young was that they were unaware of the price they eventually paid for their actions. They were taken advantage of because they were at a disadvantage.

It feels like this line of thought would apply even stronger toward military service.

Military is a necessity for a society. Actually, a mandatory service may be a good deterrence from questionable endeavours in foreign lands.

Meanwhile prostitution is a disadvantage to society as a whole when you take the whole surrounding business and expenses.

> Military is a necessity for a society

Is the argument here that people are too young to make an informed decision about military service before 25, but that it's important for our national security that some of them make that decision anyway? This feels a bit less like a response to GP's point, and a bit more like a more general argument that national security sometimes requires us to take advantage of minors.

If the argument is that social benefit sometimes outweighs moral costs, then that seems to me to be an argument that we should also look at the social/individual/financial costs of criminalizing prostitution and approach the issue at least partially through an effects-based lens rather than a purely moral one.

On the other hand, if we're willing to take a hard stand that some transactions aren't really consensual when incentives are involved, and that (particularly for minors under 25) some people aren't really able to make fully informed decisions about some topics in general -- well, it's not that I'm against that conclusion, I do think that incentives and life situations and information/maturity do play into whether or not a contract/interaction can be actually consensual in a real sense. But it's just... that conclusion has implications, and I don't think those implications can be swept under the rug just because the military is important.

How is prostitution a disadvantage in a country where it's legalised and regulated, exactly? Seems like you're using your own prejudices and applying them broadly

Vast majority of voluntary prostitution services providers have major issues. Mental health issues, substances abuse and so on.

Looking at all sorts of research, having sex come with an emotional baggage for vast majority of people. Which is natural given the evolutionary role.

Can it benefit a society to push vulnerable people to provide services that are likely to cause mental instability? Can it even be seen as a neutral at bottom line?

Buying side is usually riddled with all sorts of issues too.

As a society, we should strive towards helping people to find mates organically and help to build lasting relationships.

> Military is a necessity for a society

Citation needed. It's highly dependent on the country ( e.g. the Maldives sure as hell don't need an army, but a navy/coast guard is important), it's circumstances (nobody is endangering the US or Canada in any way).

Military is there to protect enforce the sovereignty of the society. Without it, the society is at the whims of its neighbors.

> Navy is important.

Navy is military, of course.

> nobody is endangering the US or Canada

Or, nobody is endangering the US or Canada because of the US military.

Or they could try getting along with their neighbors instead of threatening them

Military is used, the vast majority of the time, as a deterrent to prevent threats. There's a war going on in Ukraine right now that is a good example of how sometimes "getting along" isn't an option, for one of the parties, who didn't have a sufficient deterrent.

You have to either accept that some humans are "bad", and have deterrents for them, or you have wait for a "bad" human to come and take what they want.

Wow its almost like that could have been avoid if both sides tried to get along

Russia seems like its being an arsehole, the "not threatening your neighbors" bit goes both ways

Its possible to have mechanisms to deal with bad actors that aren't blatant threats of violence

> could have been avoid if both sides tried to get along

I don't understand this. Putin believes Russia will benefit more from not getting along, taking what he thinks Russia needs, meaning he thinks that the current war is the best course of action, and beneficial in the long term. What would the motivation be for "getting along" when that would be detrimental? Agreements can't alway be made, because "best" is different depending on the perspective. For example, look at Nazi Germany. Non violent mechanisms wouldn't convince them that genocide wasn't the best course of action.

> Its possible to have mechanisms to deal with bad actors that aren't blatant threats of violence

Do you have an example, ideally one that has proven successful in the past? Currently, sanctions, limiting bank transactions, etc are used as non violent mechanisms. All of these were used against Russia, yet tanks still came over the border. What sort of non violent mechanism do you think could have been used have been to stop, or now remove, the Russian tanks within the Ukrainian border?

When I say this, I don't mean it in a way that is belittling, but you might want to look at some history books for examples of the perceived irrationality of leaders that result in wars. You can't always make someone agree with you.

This idea that 25 is the true age of maturity... is it possible that the thing that makes a 25 year old mature is having had 7 years of adult responsibilities?

If we set the age of adulthood to 25, maybe people won't be mature until 32.

This is biological maturity, as in when the brain is done forming. But, to your point, I wonder how much of that formation is guided by “soft” constructs like social maturity. Assuming it was delayed, maybe you end up with a different brain formation.

The brain physically reaches maturity at around that age. From memory, the last place to finish development is the prefrontal cortex (where decision making occurs).

Tbh we should probably reform many of our laws to focus on ages ~25-26

The comments here are surprising in regards to how many people assume all people in a major city are rational decision makers.

There's this utopian notion that sex workers are just like you and me, except their hard on their luck so they're choosing to do sex work and so we should make it as legal as possible for them.

The truth is nearly all sex workers are drug addicts that need serious help.

Like assuming gun owners are all rational people or motorcycle riders should be able to make the correct decision about protecting their head.

Some things in life, the state should deter people from doing in everyway possible because it's just extremely horrible for humans to engage in.

> The truth is nearly all sex workers are drug addicts that need serious help.

This isn’t true and it varies by region and country. It’s a very condescending view.

Some are people looking to pay for college. Some are drug addicts. Some are people who struggle academically and have untreated disabilities and found sex work is something that they can do. Some are people who want side money to buy a Gucci bag or something.

Most sex workers aren’t 80 pound meth addicts walking under a highway overpass at 3 am. In 2022, most sex workers are making deals online, in clubs, and various institutions. Plus there’s the whole sex streamer business which is absolutely massive.

> The truth is nearly all sex workers are drug addicts that need serious help.

That's just bullshit. Maybe it's valid for some subset of sex workers in some jurisdiction where sex workers is illegal and dangerous so only few really desperate people do it, but it's a ludicrously bad sweeping statement.

In places where sex work is legal, regulated, safe and with healthcare, that's simply untrue, verifiably so.

Not in America. In America there’s not enough workers for regular jobs. And academic studies should be taken with a grain of salt in this context. For one, sex workers are known to lie about their motivations. And two, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a middle aged woman would rather not perform oral sex on a stranger in a back alley for 20 bucks. They only do it for a fast fix.

"The truth is nearly all sex workers are drug addicts that need serious help" maybe this correlation holds because prostitution is illegal. In the sense that non drug addicts wont choose it because of the illegality.

No. This holds even for countries where prostitution is legalized and widely accepted by society.


Real life.

I recommend the autobiographical, category defining book on street work - Pimp: The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim. [0]

It’s dystopian and might be a hard read for some of you, but it might rectify a lot of the idealistic visions of what this work looks like.

It’s violence and predation all the way up and down. It’s hard to see how California isn’t failing the people and communities it claims to stand up for.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Pimp-Story-Life-Iceberg-Slim/dp/14516...

Read the “popular highlights” for a quick introduction.

Oh weird. Having read the book, I agree it's a tough read. But would it have been the same if prostitution was legalised (or at least decriminalised) and regulated? I doubt it very much.

Sex work can be made far safer. A holier than thou blanket ban on legalisation of sex work will only guarantee that it won't become safer.

Similar to drug use, if we as societies continue to pretend that people won't partake in drugs because there are laws against it, all we're doing is ensuring drug use is more dangerous.

If you don't want to be a sex worker, don't be one. If you don't want to take drugs, don't take them (though I'm sure many anti-drug types enjoy a whiskey or 10).

But don't pretend you're doing people a favour by refusing to entertain the idea of legalising largely harmless behaviours. You're just ensuring that the actions which are going to happen regardless are more dangerous for those involved.

A bit like abortion, really.

That's the facts and of course the comment is getting down voted.

People want to talk about their beliefs and feelings without having to know what this stuff looks like in real life. The abstraction makes it all palatable.

This might seem like a good idea abstractly, but it means more pimps can make more money and they aren't good folks.

Nice feelings you have there.

Why can't we legalise sex work and cut a lot of pimps out of the equation? Maintain a "ban" on street walking, but allow brothels and escorting.

What is prostitution anyway? A coal miner sells his body in similar ways to a prostitute.

Why can't we legalise drugs and cut cartels and gangs out of the equation? Personal use amounts, manufactured and taxed like other drugs (alcohol, cigarettes etc)

Why can't we legalise abortion and cut backyard operators out of the equation?

Why should your moral stances take precedence over the safety of others?

You can't legislate behaviours away. They're going to happen. We've been taking drugs for 10s of 1000s of years. We've been trading our bodies for benefits for at least a few thousand.

These actions are largely harmless. Let's realise that making them illegal is a large part of what makes them dangerous.

I was about to write something similar, but your comment did so much more eloquently than anything I'd be capable of producing.

My ultimate viewpoint is that criminalization makes criminals and a lot of people want sex workers and drug users (there are others, of course) to be considered criminals and be treated as such. I don't see the societal benefit of this, as it just leads to illicit systems taking place that serve to exploit people. Sex work isn't harmful, but sex trafficking and abuse are- there is definitely a way to allow people to participate in sex work with dignity and protection from exploitation- and criminalizing sex work only contributes to forcing people into situations where they operate in shady unregulated realms where the control rests with organized crime instead of giving that control to the sex workers themselves. Because they can't operate legitimately, and the status of criminalization comes with stigma and marginalization that further create more issues rather than solving any issues.

People will buy sex and people will sell sex, they have been doing so since time immemorial regardless of the law- so IMO the priority should be in making sex work safe, focusing LE and CJ systems toward human trafficking, exploitation, abuse, and slavery instead.

The only 'feelings' I may have represented is that pimps are bad people.

You are abstracting and failing to see that there are abusers and manipulators in the world. 'Cut it out', yeah, no kidding. It's just that easy too

Why don't people start off with their own sons and daughters, I wonder?

I want to see the man here that wants to give his daughter to the world, to be used by all kinds of men for some cash.

I've got a hard trouble believing any well adjusted, sane man (or woman) will have no problems with it. Doesn't matter what adjective we use ("you are not progressive enough"). Nobody cares.

Well, these "sex workers" are someone's daughter, too.

I wish I could grasp just how much % of people exist that actually believe this insanity that is rampant in 2020's.

Is it a case of a loud minority, or (majority of) people really believe this is how life should be lived?

These are the type of moves that are gonna come back to haunt the democratic party over the next few years.

This will make the city streets more unsafe.

How? Have you ever been attacked by a prostitute on the street? I've been harassed by a lot more cops than prostitutes.

Sex workers themselves are often victims of violent crime so perhaps more sex workers on the streets means more violent crimes committed against them?

Really we need solutions that allow sex workers to get off the streets more. Currently it's illegal for them to organise and operate in ways that would really make them safe.

On the contrary, sex workers would be a lot safer if they were able to turn to the police without fear of arrest. Decriminalizing their work makes them safer.

this isn't decriminalizing their work. they still won't be able to go to the police. this just says that cops need another reason to harass them.

I agree but somehow doubt that "we wont arrest you" will translate into "we will listen to you when you get robbed at gun point."

Not OP, but yes I have actually been physically attacked by a prostitute on the street.

We, a small group, and I were on our way back from a wedding. Just minding our business walking down the street to our hotel.

This person was clearly on drugs and paranoid or something.

Wouldn't this make it more safe? Given that every interaction with police has the potential for death, telling them to stop harassing citizens means safer streets for those citizens.

> Given that every interaction with police has the potential for death

Touch grass and stop perpetuating this nonsense, as if interacting with the police is like playing Russian roulette.

2019 had 634 deaths by police in the US [1].

From the Wiki article:

"The Washington Post has tracked shootings since 2015, reporting more than 5,000 incidents since their tracking began.[7] The database can also classify people in various categories including race, age, weapon etc. For 2019, it reported a total of 1,004 people shot and killed by police.[8][9] According to the database, 6,600 have been killed since 2015, including 6,303 men and 294 women. Among those killed, 3,878 were armed with a gun, 1,119 were armed with a knife, 218 were armed with a vehicle, 244 had a toy weapon, and 421 were unarmed."

So if you're not carrying a weapon (and probably also threatening the officer/someone with it), you're already way less likely to be killed.

How many police interactions are there per year in the US? 61.5 Million in 2018 [2]. That's a 0.00017% chance of dying per police interaction (assuming you're unarmed, 421 unarmed deaths over 4 years).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_killings_by_law_enfor...

[2] https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/cbpp18st.pdf

Not really, the whole ecosystem around prostitution is a nasty element of pimps, street dealers, etc. Not in your backyard I’m sure.

It’s easy to say academically in your living room that paying some poor soul for a blowjob hurts nobody. It’s even easier to pivot to some knee jerk about how police are the problem.

Reality is more complex. And the political reality is that these poorly implemented policy changes are going to create strong republican majorities all over the place.

wow, sorta unbelievable replies here. You realize this will effectively make the act of loitering for sex acts legal?

And this is happening while our cities are being ravaged by a major drug epidemic.

This will most likely breed more sex workers which no one needs at a time when most stores have help wanted signs.

If people would rather work street corners than Safeway, maybe we need to fix retail wages?

Oh I'd bet Safeway pays much better than prostitution.

Unskilled prostitution generally pays about four times the going rate for unskilled labor, as far as I've read. This was a cross-cultural finding.

Skilled prostitution goes much, much higher than that.

Most of the money generated here is going to a pimp. These women are being abused and exploited for their body. You support more of that?

I didn’t read any support in parent’s comment, just earning estimations.

Unless you're being sarcastic, you are very wrong.

Even on the low end of the pay grade, the benefits of being self employed and able to do drugs on the job outweighs the requirement to show up to work on time and sober at Safeway.

I’m amazed how everyone here are acting as if these prostitutes are entrepreneurs of some kind. They are being manhandled by a pimp and forced to do this shit. Most of them are runaways and are being exploited for their body, and end up overdosing on drugs eventually. Holy fuck people here are so out of touch and have no street knowledge.

I don't mean to imply that they aren't being exploited, I've seen it firsthand. But the parent comment making the comparison to being employed at a convenience store is not a fair at all. My point is that many of these women are strung out on drugs, and they've reached a point where even if legal employment was an option, they wouldn't take it because it wouldn't afford them to ability to continue doing drugs.

I couldn’t agree more . It’s amazing to see all these insane comments and downvotes on common sense.

Feels very college to me. Classic case of book smarts replacing street smarts. Naive Utopian vibes. There are very bad people in the world unfortunately. Sounds like lots of these commenters don’t know it yet.

In Sweden, prostitution is illegal, but not selling sex. Instead, the buyer is the one breaking the law. I think this makes more sense, because the prostitutes will not need to fear reaching out for help to get out of the situation.

This also makes the whole prostitution business more shady than in fully liberalized models, like Germany.

It's basically saying "prostitution is bad and illegal but if you are offering it we won't punish you (wink)". Frankly it seems to me the worst of both worlds. The customer is automatically in a condemned state and can't redeem themselves. Kind of like how sanctions against Russia levied with no clear terms for removing them won't make them stop since you have basically made them your enemy with no honorable agreement possible.

In the USA, both buying and selling sex is illegal in most jurisdictions.

we can't do that in the US because then it would make the (congress)men the enemy and not the women selling temptation.

Do you need to take illegally acquired controlled substances when you have sex?

Every interaction with everyone has the potential for death. Police officers are not any more dangerous than many other things that are not widely reviled.

I think we should approach the whole selling-sex thing less emotionally and more logically.

We have extensive rules here in Germany to protect the health of workers. In that spirit, any physical and mental health risks taken by people who are doing sex-work should be insured-to-death.

This work also entails information inequality: Most young workers do not (cannot) really know what they are getting into. We make training a must for wood-workers, why not sex-workers? Make licensing through training a must, also enforce them yearly perhaps. Make regular health-checks a must as well, pricing that into the insurance.

Prosecute people who seek or employ unlicensed sex-workers heavily. This should be seen as bad as abusing children. Following the same logic, the workers should never be afraid to be prosecuted, even when they are not licensed. So I like what California is trying to do too.

Also make sure the Police has some members who speak enough foreign languages to cover at least Eastern Europe languages.

I’m convinced Weiner and the Democratic Party in SF makes its decisions based on likes and retweets.

We once had street prostitution in NYC. You should’ve seen Times Square after hours. Oh boy. Real good for the local economy. /s

I’m a firm believer we’re in the post-“city revival” period.

Cities were the place to be until the 60’s when anyone who could fled to the suburbs to get away from the crime and general decay. SF lost about 1/3 of it population by the 80’s compared to the 50’s peak.

Cities started to revive in the 90’s and became the new cultural and business Mecca. Now social unrest, crime, cost, and QOL issues seem to be getting worse and the city government seems to not only unconcerned by also encouraging it.

I’m long on suburban real estate.

In the UK protitution is legal as along as you do not advertise which means it is discrete and you do not know it's there really. I was naive and aware of of its existance for many years.

Great to see Wiener rising to support the human freedom to have sex.

Given the largest English speaking population on the internet is Americans, I'm going to have to assume that the ridiculously puritanical opinions on sex work and drug use in the comments are from Americans.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact