The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee have approved a bill to criminalize prostitution that occurs indoors, with a full vote on the House floor expected soon.
The bill, which the committee approved in an 8-to-4 vote, seeks to
rewrite a nearly 30-year-old law that outlaws streetwalkers and soliciting for prostitution outdoors, but has no prohibition against prostitution that occurs indoors.
Rhode Island is the only state, except for certain counties in Nevada, that has
no prohibition against indoor prostitution.
Supporters of the bill include state and local police, who claim that it’s needed to investigate and prosecute cases where prostitutes may be coerced or forced into prostitution, generally defined as
Opponents of the bill generally fall into two categories: those such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes what it views as an intrusion into peoples’ privacy, and those such as members of Brown University
Students Against Human Trafficking, who say that criminalizing indoor prostitution will mean prosecuting prostitutes, who they view as victims.
The amended version of the prostitution bill (H-5044 Sub A) includes exemptions for women who were
“forced” into prostitution. Under the bill approved last night, anyone found guilty of prostitution or of procuring the services of a prostitute (both misdemeanors) would face imprisonment of up to six months, and a fine of $250 to $1,000. For a
subsequent offense, they could face up to a year in prison and a fine of $500 to $1,000.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr said: I’m very confident we’ll pass it on the floor of the House.
Update: Mean Minded Representatives
17th May 2009. See
article from boston.com
Rhode Island House lawmakers have voted 62-8 to criminalize the solicitation of sexual acts behind closed doors. It now heads for a vote in the Senate, where identical legislation is pending.
The push comes in response to years of
whinges by police that Rhode Island's law essentially permitted brothels to operate in plain sight.
It's a black eye for Rhode Island, and I believe it's time we close the loophole, said Rep. Joanne Giannini who sponsored the bill ending
the distinction between indoor and outdoor prostitution.
If it becomes law, prostitutes could be punished by a prison term of up to six months in prison and a maximum $1,000 fine for a first offense. Subsequent convictions would carry a prison
term of up to one year and similar fines.
Those convicted of hiring a prostitute would face the same penalties.