Proposition K Calls for Legal Prostitution in San Francisco
October 7, 2008
A proposal to decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco has local leaders divided.
Proposition K would bar the Police Department from investigating and prosecuting prostitution. It would deny funding for the citys First Offender Prostitution Program, or "john school," in which persons arrested for soliciting a prostitute attend a class and pay a $1,000 fine in exchange for having their misdemeanor charges dropped. The measure would also prohibit the police from accepting any federal or state funds to investigate alleged trafficking victims using racial profiling.
So far, Prop. K has prompted a court fight over ballot language; drawn condemnation from Mayor Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris; split both Democratic and Green party officials; and caused heated debate over whether it will thwart or boost sex trafficking in San Francisco, a major global hub for the industry
Prop. Ks supporters, including sex worker advocacy groups, say it would cut crime and protect prostitutes from assault and rape since they could report crimes without fear of being arrested. The measure would also reduce STDs and save the city millions of dollars spent every year on prosecuting prostitution, they say.
Opponents say the measure is flawed because it does not mandate HIV testing, limit street prostitution, set requirements on the location of brothels or address programs to help sex workers leave the industry.
Prosecutors say Prop. K will cripple human trafficking investigations, which almost exclusively arise from arrests during raids on brothels that masquerade as Asian massage parlors.
Supporters said it will actually spur investigations by freeing those involved to go to the police without retribution. Police Capt. Al Pardini, head of the vice unit, remains unconvinced. "The likelihood people are going to come forward and do that would be pretty low," he said.
San Francisco Chronicle
10.06.2008; John Coté