California decriminalized “loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution,” and the results are exactly what you’d expect.
News outlets report that prostitution has increased and “prostitutes wearing only G-strings” walk the streets of cities during the day – near businesses, homes and schools.
Police used the state’s loitering law as a key tool to punish pimps and traffickers. It acted as the foundation for probable cause to begin investigations because it allowed law enforcement to identify victims and separate them from their exploiters.
In an article titled, “Nearly naked prostitutes prowl streets in broad daylight, but California law ties police hands,” National City Mayor Ron Morrison told Fox News:
They’re waving to people on the freeway or, just to be honest with you, they are bending over for the freeway. I don’t know how else to put it; they’re showing their wares.
Those that are out there on the street, most of them are wearing less than what you would consider a scanty negligee. It is just flaunting in everybody’s face. And so a lot of people are screaming, “Hey, you know, can’t you get them on indecent exposure?” And the problem is the way our laws read in this state. The definition of indecent exposure is as long … as the genitals are covered. Anything else is fair game out in public.”
Fox News added:
Prostitutes gather in a downtown area that faces a freeway and are most often seen early in the morning and around 3 p.m. Morrison added that another new California law that legalized jaywalking has compounded the issues as some women stand in traffic to attract a john.
National City, just south of San Diego, is a small city with a population of about 56,000. A portion of the city is along the San Diego Bay, and it includes part of Naval Base San Diego, the main homeport of the Pacific Fleet.
Other California cities have been affected by SB 357, the law decriminalizing loitering with intent, which was proposed by state Senator Scott Weiner, passed by the California State Assembly in September of 2021, and held by the Senate for six months before being signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on July 1, 2022. The law went into effect on January 1, 2023.
But even before it took effect, cities began to see increased streetwalking. The Times of San Diego reported earlier this year that the new law “Led to ‘Explosion’ in Prostitution”:
The pimps in California thought Senate Bill 357 was going to legalize prostitution in the state.
“That was their perception,” said Stephany Powell, director of law enforcement training at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation in Washington.
She claims passage of the controversial legislation, even before the governor’s signature, has led to an increase in pimping and pandering on the streets of California.
Evidently pimps didn’t read the law closely enough.
Powell told the Times the numbers had doubled, adding:
Not only in terms of the girls walking the streets for the purposes of prostitution, but also the sex buyers that were circling the blocks. Because remember, when the bill passed, it also said that if you are a sex buyer, and you are loitering in an area for prostitution, that’s legal too.
The news outlet added, “With loitering no longer a crime, officers on the street can no longer investigate a person who is loitering, even if they suspect someone of being exploited or being underage.”
California Family Council, which advocates for family-friendly laws and regulations, reported on another neighborhood that’s been affected by SB 357:
Oakland residents are complaining that pimps are boldly selling scantily-clad women in their neighborhoods in broad daylight to men clogging their streets in their slowly moving cars. The East 15th Street neighborhood in particular is calling on city leaders to take action and protect their families.
The organization also explained that sex-trafficking survivors spoke out against the bill. Twenty eight survivors, along with 12 elected officials, nearly 100 organizations, and over 800 individuals sent a letter to the governor urging him to veto the measure, stating that the loitering law helped police rescue trafficked women and children:
Loitering investigations are key components in stopping child sex trafficking and identifying those who would exploit children. In the first nine months of 2021 alone, the Oakland Police Department rescued nine CSEC children (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) using the loitering law.
Supporters of the bill justified the measure by saying it was needed to protect “racial minorities and those identifying as LGBTQ” from police discrimination and harassment.
San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit told The Daily Wire, “the law emboldens those trafficking women, ‘specifically younger women,’ and makes it ‘much harder for us to rescue those victims. He added:
Just because you decriminalize something, doesn’t mean the impact on the victim, those who are being trafficked, or on the community goes away. In fact, sometimes, like this, it increases.
Related articles and resources:
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888). The Trafficking Hotline also connects victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking with services they need to get help and stay safe.
To learn more about human trafficking, listen to Focus on the Family’s Broadcast, “Human Trafficking: What You Need to Know.” You’ll hear Linda Smith, President of Shared Hope International, discuss the trafficking of minors in the United States, how listeners can fight it and how parents can protect their children.
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