Policing Prostitution

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Policing prostitution is a fairly difficult task. There have been many attempts to curtail the amount of prostitution in the United States, but most have taken away the civil liberties of many of those individuals. Furthermore, the tension that law enforcement, as well as pimps and traffickers, has made it that much more difficult for sex workers to come forward about crimes that may have been committed against them.

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This research paper focuses on some of the unfairness that individuals under the label of prostitution have been exhibited to, as well as the progress the nation has made in terms of making a fair playing field in terms of the law.

Prostitution has consistently maintained a part of society throughout the existence of humanity. While the legality of prostitution is a highly subjective topic, the policing of the crime has come under scrutiny in recent years. The criminal justice system would do well to focus on legislation that helps protect the rights of prostitutes, hold law enforcement accountable for treatment of prostitutes, and continue its fight against human trafficking.

Treatment of criminals has been on the forefront of American thought in recent years. Penelope Saunders and Jennifer Kirby, writers for Social Justice, detail their perceptions of Washington, D.C. law enforcement’s treatment of sex workers. Of the Acts that have been passed with D.C. involving sex workers, one of the provisions included a prostitution-free zone. This would keep men and women who are deemed by police as prostitutes from entering and traveling within these parts of the city. This would present obvious problems, and could give law enforcement too much power considering they would be limiting who would come in and out of certain areas. Furthermore it has been found that law enforcement does not always treat sex workers with the utmost fairness. In their treatment of people profiled as prostitutes, police far exceed their legal mandate, subjecting them to extortion, false arrest, illegal detention, and physical and sexual abuse (Saunders & Kirby, 2010).

The study conducted by Saunders and Kirby shows that there are two clear patterns when it comes to policing prostitution. First, police often stigmatize and dehumanize the “prostitute” as a kind of trash, social blight, and/or threat to public safety and order (Saunders & Kirby, 2010). Second, the patterns of abuse displayed by law enforcement have not been random. A significant fear that the authors present is that if society begins to fear and restrain the civil liberties of prostitutes, how far would it go? This could lead down a slippery slope and curtail other criminals’ civil liberties. Secondly, they fear that their need for help from the police will be dismissed because of their status. If they are known as sex workers by law enforcement and they complain about a crime that has been committed against them,

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