Rhode Island Senators Consider Two Paths To Decriminalizing Prostitution

Rhode Island has become the latest state to decriminalize prostitution. Two bills in this area are currently being heard by the Judiciary Committee of the State Senate.

S2713 by Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics Rhode Island is one of the most promising bills in criminal justice reform or civil liberties. The bill—introduced by state Sens. Cynthia Mendes (D–East Providence & Pawtucket) and Jeanine Calkin (D–Warwick)—would decriminalize selling sex, paying for sex, and a number of other consensual activities related to commercial sexual activity.

Mendes’ and Calkin’s bills make Rhode Island’s law criminalizing prostitution, procuring sexual conduct for money, and loitering to prostitution. Indecently soliciting motor vehicles to allow or pander prostitution. Refusing to comply Protocols for treatment and evaluation of venereal disease The amendment would be repealed.

This measure will also erase the records of those who were previously convicted for violating these laws. 

“Sex workers are often marginalized, and survivors of sex traficking need to have equal access to justice and protections,” COYOTE RI representatives addressed a letter to Senator Judiciary Committee.

COYOTE and Brown conducted a survey among 63 Rhode Island sexworkers. University…79% of sex workers who One in five people who attempted to report a crime the police said they were refused. These were [threatened]With arrest and 66% claimed they were arrested when reporting a crime COYOTE has sent a letter stating that they are “police officers”. According to the group,Prostitution is criminalized, making current and former sex workers more vulnerable to poverty, homelessness and financial insecurity.

COYOTE RI Executive Director Bella RobinsonSend us your stories There are reasonsThey don’t believe the bill will pass committee but they do think it’s part of an effort to get a discussion started.

S2716 is being considered by the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee. This would make prostitution a civil offense and punishable with a maximum $250 fine. Current Rhode Island law makes prostitution a misdemeanor, punishable with up to 6 months imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. Littering to prostitution and procuring sexual conduct in exchange for money Motor vehicles being used for sexual solicitation They would also be considered civil offenses and would result in the acquittal of the offender.

This bill—from Calkin and three other Democratic senators—would leave in place a law that states that those cited “mYou can have your questions answered by the “Department of Health for Venomous Disease.” If a person is found to have the disease, they will be quarantined and treated. However, refusing to comply with the request would be considered a misdemeanor and could lead to imprisonment as well as a civil offense that could land you in jail for up to $250.

RobinsonS2716 is not enough, but it’s “a step forward.”

COYOTE Rhode and She also support Senate Bill 223, which states that peace officers (which includes corrections officers and police officers) can’t have sex while in custody. Sexual assault would result from doing so.

This bill makes clear what should always be the legal standard — those being
No one should be subjected to sexual abuse, rape or detention while in police custody.
Robinson, in a letter addressed to legislators, wrote that he was referring to ‘peace officers’. “It Common sense dictates that anyone under arrest should be detained. You are not legally able to consent to sexual acts performed by peace officers. These people have immense power over us.”

Robinson and COYOTE propose adding the “people under investigation”, to the list of persons with whom police officers cannot have sex.

Robinson says it is difficult to advance any of these measures outside the committee.

However, Rhode Island’s introduction of them is higher than the average state legislature and it marks Rhode Island as an state that can help others to advance sex worker rights or reform prostitution laws.

The state established a commission to study the “health and safety implications of revising the laws relating to sexual activities in commercial relationships” last year. This commission met its first meeting in October.

The state changed its law on street solicitation to include sex that takes place indoors. This was in response to a COYOTE suit. In 1980 the state effectively removed indoor prostitution from the criminalized list. The state adopted a new law to ban indoor prostitution in 2009.

Unsurprisingly, the sponsor of that 2009 bill—Joanne Giannini, now a freelance writer—has been speaking out against the current decriminalization efforts, suggesting that it would make Rhode Island a “safe haven for sex trafficking and human trafficking.” Contra Giannini however, Rhode Island’s decriminalization bills will not alter Rhode Island’s laws to prevent forced labor or prostitution. The state also has laws against patronizing victims of sexual servitude or patronizing minors for commercial sexual activity.