Maybe Child Prostitution Isn’t Something to Decriminalize, Just Now


As Rhode Island enters another legislative session, we should keep a careful eye on other states so we can spot progressives’ destructive plans when they make their way here.  Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen points out, in the Washington Examiner, a big one out of California: 

Beginning on Jan. 1, prostitution by minors will be legal in California. Yes, you read that right.

SB 1322 bars law enforcement from arresting sex workers who are under the age of 18 for soliciting or engaging in prostitution, or loitering with the intent to do so. So teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution.

Government imposes too many criminal penalties for people’s free activities, catching too many people up in the system and making it more difficult for them to overcome adversity and thrive.  But can we at least agree that the underage sale of sex is a likely indicator that the public has an interest not in punishing the kids, but in taking a closer look at what their problems are?

To be sure, I’ve got a generally dark view of government’s ability to do such things, but as with legalizing marijuana, we have to acknowledge our current circumstances and consider the effects of changing them at this particular time in a particular way.  If our society were healthier, with strong social institutions, instead of deteriorating ones, we might consider changes that will tend to produce socially harmful effects, but to do so in a rush of progressive ambition is lunacy.

ADDENDUM (12/31/16 4:16 p.m.):

In anticipation of objections, I should address immediately objections that the intent of the law is not as Allen suggests.  Nobody should doubt that most progressives think they’re doing good by their actions.  But consider this, from bill author Holly Mitchell:

The problem is that not every county has services available in juvenile justice for minor victims.

Followed with NBC’s note that:

Various district attorneys’ offices in the state have expressed a similar apprehension toward the law —but some say it’s because the state just isn’t ready to provide adequate services.

Good intentions can be deadly.  If they feel, for whatever reason, that sex for money is in their best interest, CA children can now know that the worst-case will be services (for which they’re probably already eligible).

  • Rhett Hardwick

    This may be a good time to seek some instruction by a study of the “White Slavery” mania of the early 20th Century. The country was possessed with the idea that women were being held in “White Slavery” and forced into prostitution. There were news stories of “Jewish Cadets” travelling Europe seeking innocent farm girls and luring them to America where they were forced into prostitution. Actual investigation, of course, found that there were prostitutes. But, only a tiny fraction were displeased with their lives. it did result in the “Mann Act”, named for Senator Mann, which forbid transporting women across state borders for sexual purposes. This passed circa 1922. Well into the 90’s there had been fewer than 16 prosecutions under the law. Jerrry Lee Lewis was one, he transported his 14 year old niece across borders for sexual purposes. Most prosecutions were black entertainers transporting white girls. One wonders how prostitution became a crime. In the Bible, after escaping Sodom, Lot’s minor daughters lure him to a cave, get him drunk and impregnate themselves by him. Unlike their mother, they are not turned into pillars of salt. There may be some wisdom in “It’s a business? You got it, you sell it, you still got it”.

    The entry of minors into the trade is troubling. But, let’s inject some reality, we live in a very sexualized world. Upper income girls are now “losing” their virginity at 14. And learning how from the internet.

    • Raymond Carter

      Exactly right. The hysteria is mind blowing and being used to fund yet more do-nothing non profits dedicated to creating jobs not to really accomplishing anything. The 16 or 17 year old ho’s (of both sexes and all races) offering themselves up as 18 on backpage, grindr or whatever are NOT being “trafficked”; they simply are engaging in the world’s oldest profession.
      This issue is one of those that sadly unites the police state left with the police state right; all to the peril of liberty.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        A friend who does Bankruptcy work has told me of the several prostitutes he has filed for. They are not turning 5 “tricks” a day and pocketing a grand. What they are doing is one “trick” then staying home popping Bon-Bons until the money ran out. Then they call their agency again. Do you think they want a steady job? I am sure there are others with more initiative.

        You’re right, girls from RI operating out of a motel in Seekonk are being “trafficked”. I wonder what it was called when they were doing it 20 years ago.