Unfair to arrest people who “look” like prostitutes; California lawmakers vote to repeal vagrancy laws

KEY POINTS

  • SB 357 would allow those convicted or serving time to ask a court to seal or dismiss their cases
  • Under current law, officers can arrest a person based on whether they are talking to a pedestrian or how revealing their clothing is.
  • Critics believe SB 357 would hinder prosecution of human traffickers and provide immunity to sex buyers

California senators voted to repeal vagrancy laws that targeted sex workers soliciting prostitution. Senate Bill 357 (SB 357) would prohibit police officers from using vagrancy as evidence of sex work, and could potentially help victims of trafficking.

Under current law, police use things like a person talking to other pedestrians, wearing revealing clothing, or moving in a certain way as evidence of intent to solicit.

While speaking in favor of the bill, Democrats said law enforcement officers often profile people of color and transgender Californians and charge them with misdemeanor.

“Arresting people because they ‘look’ like sex workers is discriminatory and reprehensible, and it puts sex workers and trans people of color at risk,” said Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, in a statement after the bill was passed by the Assembly on Friday. .

“Anti-LGTBQ and racist vagrancy laws must end. Sex workers, LGBTQ people and people of color deserve to be safe on our streets, ”he added.

“SB 357 (Wiener) will repeal current California law that has allowed targeted and discriminatory policing of communities of color and will allow people who have been convicted using this subjective law to erase their names,” ACLU California Action said, who co-sponsored the invoice in a statement.

“The overly broad interpretation and application of this law has led to discriminatory judgments and disproportionate arrest rates of communities already targeted for loitering with intent to prostitute themselves.”

Bill 357 not only separated Democrats from Republicans, but also created a wedge between liberals and moderate members of the majority party. Republicans and moderate Democrats argue the new bill could hamper law enforcement efforts to prevent or stop human trafficking.

“The unintended consequence makes it more difficult to protect victims of child trafficking, although it is only a possibility, it is not something I can support,” said MP Cottie Petrie-Norris, SB 357’s D-Laguna Beach, the Sacramento Bee reported.

National Center on Sexual Exploitation Director of Law Enforcement Training and Survivor Services Stephany Powell is concerned that the new bill will give legal protection to sex buyers and hamper prosecution of sex buyers. human traffickers.

The bill will now be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for review in January. If passed, SB 357 would decriminalize law enforcement officers from using vagrancy as evidence of prostitution. People who are currently serving sentences or who have already been convicted can also ask a court to overturn or seal their sentences, KOVR reported.

Hammer | representative image Photo: Pixabay

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