Less Enforcement Means More Prostitution

Earlier this year, the State of New York repealed a law that banned loitering for purposes of prostitution. Some left-wing advocates celebrated this repeal as a matter of equality and justice that protected persons identifying as “transgender” from unfair targeting by police. While prostitution remains illegal in New York, the repeal of this law removed one arrow from law enforcement’s quiver in its efforts to deter prostitution. The repeal also represents a step toward the left’s eventual goal of decriminalizing prostitution altogether.

In recent weeks, the New York Post has run multiple stories about a four-block area in Brooklyn where open-air prostitution was taking place with little response from law enforcement. It appears that the repeal measure, along with a move by some district attorneys in New York City to ease up on the prosecution of prostitutes, may be prompting pimps and prostitutes to be more brazen and public about plying their so-called trade. While police eventually cracked down on the location, it took the publication of two detailed and embarrassing reports in the Post to motivate them to take action.

The New York Times recently outlined two ways to deal with prostitution. According to the Times, one way to address the problem is to decriminalize prostitution while making it illegal to patronize a prostitute or to act as a pimp or procurer for a prostitute. It is thought that this approach would focus law enforcement attention on johns (men who patronize prostitutes), pimps (persons who profit from prostitution), and traffickers (persons who buy and sell prostitutes). Another way to address the problem would be to pass a bill like Bill S.3075-Salazar/A.849-Gottfried, which would legalize prostitution altogether.

At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we offer a third alternative: Keep prostitution fully illegal, while making every effort to crack down on johns and pimps instead of focusing law enforcement attention only on the prostitutes themselves. Make no mistake—if prostitution is legalized, there will be more prostitution. Is that what you want for your community?