State Bill Would Disallow Arrests For Loitering For Prostitution

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ALBANY – A controversial bill that has no current votes on the Assembly Floor would eliminate the ability to arrest people for loitering for the purposes of soliciting prostitution.

The bill, A654, states its purpose is to “repeal a section of the Penal Law which has led to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement by targeting women from marginalized groups that are at high risk for sex trafficking and other exploitation and abuse.”

Arrests under the current law, which was made law in 1976 in the face of high crime in cities, especially in New York City, “disproportionately impact women, particularly cisgender and transgender women of color and women who have previously been arrested for prostitution offenses.” the bill states.

According to the Bill, 85 percent of the individuals arrested under Section 240.37 between 2012-2015 were black or Latina. In particular, women of color have often been unlawfully targeted by officers under this statute during “sweeps” or “operations” where officers arrest large numbers of women in a given area at the same time.”

Although the Bill does not legalize prostitution, opponents say the Bill makes it easier for people to solicit prostitution and lessons the likelihood of police being able to make a prostitution arrest.

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