Test Case

This week the Projo ran an editorial on the case of a 16 year old runaway girl who was picked up on a domestic violence complaint and found to have been working in a strip club.

This girl was rescued due to outstanding work by the Providence police, the Northeast Innocence Lost Task Force and the FBI. A Providence police officer stayed with her while she waited in the emergency room, trying to find out the real story. The girl, who was suicidal, was using a fake name and ID. The man who is her alleged trafficker has enough warrants out to keep him in prison for as long as it takes to get the facts.

The Journal editorial has one answer to the problem of exploitation– arrest prostitutes. This is essentially what two proposed bills will allow. Although stripping is not legally prostitution, and amending the employment laws to ban minors from working in a hazardous environment has precedent and should easily pass, ‘close the loophole’ is the answer.

The Journal endorses bill H 5044A which is an arrest bill with anti-trafficking language added. (follow the link to view the bill). The Senate has a competing bill that is opposed by the police because the penalties are not strong enough.

I think both bills are trying to deal with a confusion about what we are doing. Are we rescuing victims, or punishing lawbreakers?

Should we be arresting victims of crime? Is prison a safe place for troubled people? A guard at the Wyatt Detention Center plead guilty today for having sex with an inmate. How much ‘force and coercion’ is possible in that situation?

Years of political and legal advocacy for victims of domestic violence led to a practice of law enforcement that allowed a police officer to treat a boyfriend beating as a real crime worth investigating. Years of advocacy for missing and exploited children made possible the teamwork that led to the arrest of a probable trafficker. There is public support for investigating and prosecuting these kinds of crimes.

The first year of work by the Coalition Against Human Trafficking led to the passage of a bill against human trafficking--one that mandates up to 30 years in prison for crimes such as those alleged against this teenage girl.

But no sooner was this bill passed then we were told that it had no teeth and was worthless. Closing the loophole became the only answer.

I’m not a lawyer, but I hope there is a good prosecutor to go after this guy. I hope the girl has some good legal advice. And I wonder why we have a brand-new anti-trafficking law that no one seems interested in enforcing.

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5 responses

  1. Of course the ProJo wants to arrest the prostitutes.

    Can’t have the cops hassling those middle-class, white male customers. That would be…tawdry. Or something.

    No. Arrest the women. They’re much less likely to be able to get a decent lawyer.

    1. Then we can throw them in the can at taxpayer expense,and even better,put their kids in foster care,at yet more public expense and the trauma of having mom locked away for-what?
      It’s not like they’re sticking up gas stations.
      I’m being sarcastic.
      I wonder if these moral crusaders might get their energy as a result of some prostitute refusing to do something really perverted and thereby forever pissing them off.I always get leery of those who wear religion and morality on their sleeve.(Not to be confused with strongly believing religious people.)

      1. Couldn’t agree more, Joe. When you’re right, you’re right.

  2. Tara Hurley has some good ideas on her blog.

    http://happyendingsdoc.wordpress.com/

    She is wondering why the anti-trafficking law is not being used. Having worked and lobbied for that law I am wondering if the goal all along was to close the loophole and we were just being appeased.
    I sent a letter to the Journal, because I am unhappy with their editorial attacks on the valid concerns of people who oppose arresting prostitutes.
    Journal reporter Amanda Milkovits has some good articles, it’s worth checking out Projo.com.

  3. Amanda Milkovits is probably the best reporter at the Journal.I once spoke with her for about an hour by phone.She is a very conscientious journalist and seems to know the difference between news reporting and editorials.
    I guess Mike Stanton is pretty good also,but I can’t say I necessarily am very interested in his subject matter.
    Kathy Gregg can be good on statehouse and general governmental issues.
    Karen Lee Ziner ought to be writing for a high school newspaper.
    Bob Kerr is just weird-he reminds a little of Charles Grodin,who used to do what I can only call free association on tv.

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