Faced With Overcrowded Prisons, Chicago Considers Ending Felony Arrests For Prostitution | ThinkProgress
Elected officials in Chicago are calling for a moratorium on felony charges for prostitution to reduce overcrowding at Cook County jail. The jail now houses 10,008 detainees and is likely to exceed the maximum capacity of 10,150 soon. In a news conference Wednesday, several county commissioners pointed to the law’s disproportionate focus on non-violent felonies like prostitution …
What is illegal has varied over time in the United States. In the 19th and early 20th century, prostitution was illegal but tolerated in its own section of town, the red-light districts. Today, should we punish prostitution as a felony? I don’t think so.
Punishing prostitution as a felony, a serious crime, makes it difficult to protect prostitutes from rape, beatings and exploitation. It makes a profession that has successfully resisted all attempts to stamp it out an regulated mess where disease and other kinds of crime feature regularly.
It is probably wisest to even go further than Chicago, and make prostitution a ticket style offense like a traffic stop, removing imprisonment even in the county jail as an option.
It seems to me that we gain little by severely punishing prostitutes and can cut our criminal justice costs significantly by a more reasonable regulation of the field.