Melissa Gira Grant tears into it:
In Louisiana some women arrested for prostitution have been charged under a 200-year-old statute prohibiting “crimes against nature.” Those charged—disproportionately black women and transgender women—end up on the state sex-offender registry. In Texas a third prostitution arrest counts as an automatic felony. Women’s prisons are so overloaded that the state is rethinking the law to cut costs. In Chicago police post mug shots of all those arrested for solicitation online, a shaming campaign intended to target men who buy sex. But researchers at DePaul University found that 10 percent of the photos are of trans women who were wrongly gendered as men by cops and arrested as “johns.” A prostitution charge will haunt these women throughout the interlocking bureaucracies of their lives: filling out job applications, signing kids up for day care, renting apartments, qualifying for loans, requesting passports or visas.
She explains how “demanding cops protect women by ‘going after the johns’” also doesn’t seem to have worked:
A 2012 examination of prostitution-related felonies in Chicago conducted by the Chicago Reporter revealed that of 1,266 convictions during the past four years, 97 percent of the charges were made against sex workers, with a 68 percent increase between 2008 and 2011. This is during the same years that CAASE lobbied for the Illinois Safe Children Act, meant to end the arrest of who the bill describes as “prostituted persons” and to instead target “traffickers” and buyers through wiretaps and stings. Since the Act’s passage in 2010, only three buyers have been charged with a felony.
(Photo: A man stops to talk to a female police officer posing as a prostitute on Holt Boulevard – known to sex workers throughout southern California as ‘the track’ – during a major prostitution sting operation on November 12, 2004 in Pomona. Approximately 60 to 80 men are arrested each night during the sting operations. Cars driven by the arrested men are seized and become city property until a $1000 fine is paid. Each vehicle is then labeled with a large window sticker stating that the car was “seized for solicitation of prostitution” and the photos of the men appear in a full-page ad in the local newspaper. By David McNew/Getty Images)