Republican Sen. Scott Wiener and other supporters said the arrests for prostitution were often based on police perceptions and disproportionately targeted trans, black and Latino women.
Critics see it as a further erosion of criminal sanctions that tie the hands of police to quality-of-life issues, such as shoplifting and car theft.
Greg Bart, a spokesman for the California Family Council, and other opponents fear it is part of a possible effort to decriminalize prostitution.
“This bill seems to be perfect if you want to increase even sex trafficking in California,” he said. “This bill will really affect the slums – it is not going to affect the neighborhoods where these legislators live.”
The bill will not decriminalize the attraction or participation in sex work. It would allow those who have previously been convicted or are currently serving adventurous sentences to ask the court to dismiss and seal the conviction record.
The measure has been passed by both legislatures, but Wiener took the unusual step of stopping the bill from going to Newsom after the Assembly approved the measure in September without a vote.
More than two dozen of his fellow Democrats in the Assembly and Senate either voted no or refused to vote.
It took time, Wiener said at the time, “to argue why this civil rights bill is good politics … and why this biased crime wanders against California’s values.”
The Senate finally sent the bill to Newsom on Monday.
But in the nine months since lawmakers took office, concerns about crime, homelessness and the perception that California’s major cities are becoming more insecure have intensified, fueling political campaigns ahead of the November election.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
Newsom, a Democratic candidate for re-election after easily winning the recall last year, said more needs to be done to address homelessness and shoplifting. Newsom representatives did not immediately comment on Wiener’s bill.
Burt believes lawmakers waited to send it to Newsom until the governor wins the recall and safely passes the June 7 by-elections.
The bill is partly funded by gay and transgender rights groups, and Wiener said he expected to send the measure to Newsom by Pride Month, which celebrates the LGTBQ community.
“It’s more important than ever to get rid of a law that targets our community,” said Wiener, who is gay. “Pride is not just about flags and rainbow parades. It is about protecting the most marginalized in our community.”
Opponents include the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, the nation’s largest such agency, and the 75,000-member California Peace Officers Research Association.
Both say abolishing it will prevent those who commit crimes related to prostitution and human trafficking from being prosecuted and will make it more difficult to identify and assist victims.
In a statement to lawmakers, the sheriff’s office said the law “is often used to prevent prostitutes from roaming public places, businesses and residential communities, which could lead to crime and drug use.”
Although the intention is good, the unintended consequences will be to the benefit of sex buyers, the department said.
But Wiener said the wandering law “essentially allows law enforcement to target and arrest people if they wear tight clothing or too much makeup.”
Similar legislation became law in New York last year, and Wiener passed his bill as part of a broader movement to end discrimination and violence against sex workers.
The debate has divided sex workers and advocates, with the American Civil Liberties Union of California backing it and the non-partisan National Center for Sexual Exploitation opposing it.
Once he officially arrives at his office, Newsom will have 12 days to sign or veto the measure.
Two other relevant measures are already laws.
A bill passed in 2016 prohibits the arrest of minors for prostitution, with the aim of treating them as victims.
A 2019 bill prohibits the arrest of sex workers if they report various crimes as a victim or witness.
The same law prohibits the use of a condom as a reason for arrest.
Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
California bill to bar police from making arrests on charges of loitering for prostitution goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk Source link California bill to bar police from making arrests on charges of loitering for prostitution goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk