State of California Decriminalizes Child Prostitution

Senate Bill 1322, by state Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, decriminalizes prostitution for minors by barring officers from arresting people under 18 for soliciting sex or loitering with intent to commit prostitution.

Beginning on Jan. 1, police cannot arrest child prostitutes in the streets of California, except under limited circumstances.

In fact, police officers in the state will be banned from arresting any person under the age of 18 for soliciting or loitering with intent, according to Senate Bill 1322.  California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill on Sept. 26, and it will go into effect Sunday.

The law also requires police to report allegations of child prostitution to county child welfare agencies.

Advocates of the law say it will help child victims of sex trafficking get treatment rather than sending them to juvenile hall and tagging them with a rap sheet for prostitution.

But Travis Allen, a Republican lawmaker representing the 72nd Assembly District in the California Legislature, warned of the fallout from what he called a “terribly destructive legislation [that] was written and passed by the progressive Democrats who control California’s state government.”

“Teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution,” Allen wrote in a column published by the Washington Examiner.

Paul Durenberger, an assistant chief district attorney in Sacramento County who oversees human trafficking cases, told the Sacramento Bee that the legislation is similar to “bills that a trafficker would want to write to protect themselves.”

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, a respected leader on the issue of human trafficking, said the law “just opens up the door for traffickers to use these kids to commit crimes and exploit them even worse.”

California Democrat legislators defended the Bill in the Sacramento Bee, saying that it doesn't legalize child prostitution.  The Bee noted that a program in Sacramento already relocates sexually exploited children from juvenile hall to treatment programs.  Upon completion of the programs, child sex victims are cleared of charges.

However, the bottom line is that while child prostitution isn't termed legal it has been effectively made legal by making any kind of enforcement action a waste of time and resources by law enforcement.  When you decriminalize something, you ultimately make it legal.

As believers, we know the difference between what is legal and what is lawful.  Many of these young people need the reassuring voice of the Gospel, and they need someone to care about decisions that are self-destructive.  Let's be available to help some of them.  And let us renounce any civil reconstructions that strengthens evildoers and evil doing (Romans 12:21; 13:3).  "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21).

"He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:20).

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