MANHATTAN – Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. announced he will end prosecutions for prostitution and unlicensed massage-related cases.
The district attorney made the announcement Wednesday and also said he would turn down more than 900 cases from the 1970s and more than 5,000 cases loitering in New York for prostitution cases following the repeal of the Walking While Trans law.
State Court judge Charlotte Davidson agreed to dismiss the thousands of prostitution-related crimes after Vance told her he was dropping the cases because the accused were exploited sex workers who were “wrongly targeted” would be prosecuted.
“In the past decade, we’ve learned from both experienced and local people that prosecuting prostitution doesn’t make us safer and too often does the opposite by further marginalizing vulnerable New Yorkers,” Vance said in a statement.
“With today’s layoffs, we also close the book about loitering for the purpose of prostitution, known as ‘Walking While Trans’ for decades of discriminatory enforcement, which is unfairly directed against members of the LGBTQ + community.”
Around 6,000 cases are said to be dropped.
They included convictions or open arrest warrants with the highest charges of prostitution or unlicensed massage. Cases also include charges related to loitering for the purpose of prostitution.
Prior to Vance’s announcement, the prosecution’s policy was to dismiss prostitution cases in the interests of justice after the accused completed five consultations with service providers.
The Legal Aid Society’s Exploitation Intervention Project thanked the prosecution and prosecutors who listened to lawyers and survivors.
“Countless sex workers who are profiled as sex workers and victims of human trafficking have suffered the weight of convictions and arrest warrants. These ongoing penalties extend to family and immigration courts and affect our customers’ ability to find stability through housing and employment.
Today’s announcement, however, should not replace the need to pass laws that completely decriminalize sex work and relieve criminal records of those convicted of prostitution offenses. The Legal Aid Society reaffirms the need for Albany, S6419 / A8230, to enact law that would achieve this immediately at this meeting. “
Under the new policy, the DA office will refuse to prosecute all new cases related to prostitution and unlicensed massages. Instead, the Vance office has asked the NYPD to provide each person arrested with a written list of resources and a statement that the Legal Aid Society says their case will not be processed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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