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DA will discuss decriminalizing prostitution with opponents before making a decision

Wait on it: Eric Gonzalez will not make any decisions regarding decriminalizing prostitution until after consulting with opponents of the policy.
Brooklyn Paper
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Following his surprise endorsement for the decriminalization of prostitution last week, Brooklyn’s top prosecutor announced Wednesday that he will not make any new policy decisions until after conducting a thorough study of the issue, in a process that he said will include meeting with advocates committed to preventing a more progressive attitude towards city sex workers.

“We’re going to hear from a lot of the other organizations, who are staunchly opposed to any form of decriminal­ization,” District Attorney Eric Gonzalez told reporters at a March 10 press conference.

Gonzalez announced his plan to meet with supporters for and against decriminalizing Brooklyn’s sex trade after initially endorsing the policy at an April 4 meeting of the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, where the prosecutor stated that he “believes in decriminal­ization” before a crowd that included Brooklyn State Senator Julia Salazar — who is championing legislative solutions to keep alleged prostitutes out of jail — along with her Senate colleague Zellnor Myrie and former sex workers turned advocates.

And while the District Attorney remains undecided on the issue of decriminalizing prostitution, Gonzalez said his real focus will remain on preventing sex trafficking and finding new ways to help victims.

“My obligation is to make sure I’m protecting children who are being sex trafficked and women who are being forced into this trade,” Gonzalez said.

The Brooklyn district attorney’s Office currently operates on a so-called “soft prosecution” policy regarding prostitution arrests, where defendants are given the opportunity to enroll in social service programs at arraignment, after which their cases are typically dismissed within a few months.

However, the district attorney’s ability to connect with sex workers may be impeded by justice reforms included in the 2020 budget that kick in next year, which require anyone charged with a misdemeanor violation — such as prostitution, solicitation, or loitering — be given a desk appearance ticket in lieu of arrest, making their first court date months, rather than days, after their initial run-in with the law, according to Gonzalez.

“People engaged in sex work and people who aren’t being arrested, the question is whether that’s the best way to get to the underlying trafficking thing,” said Gonzalez.

Brooklyn’s top prosecutor has already proven himself willing to wield his prosecutorial discretion to effectively decriminalize other misdemeanor offenses, and the DA has gradually expanded on his predecessor Ken Thompson’s policy of declining to prosecute Brooklyn arrests for marijuana possession and public smoking since taking office in 2016.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 3:10 pm, April 11, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
Let's see, in the 70s we had the corner bookie the scrounge up the world. If you place a bet from him you will spiral into a life of crime. But wait if we legalized it we can tax it. Never mind. A few years later.... Giving a corner bookie money to play numbers? What's wrong with you why are you supporting organized crime? Oh wait let's legalize it and collect taxes after all were're not organized. What's this? Buying marijuana from hoodlums in the street? How could you support drug dealers. Oh wait, if we become the drug dealers we can sell marijuana and we can tax it... Never mind. Now the conversation is about prostitution. Pretty good idea taking the women off the streets and away from the pimps. We can control it and make it safe for women and then we could be the pimps. Oh, and we can tax it also. This way we'll sanitize the stigma of prostitution and make it legal so it will be a good thing right? My question to everyone out there is have you ever asked a young girl what they would like to be when they grow up? Did they ever say a prostitute? I'll leave it at that.
April 11, 8:13 pm
Steve says:
This DA is a breath of fresh air. Uses common sense.
April 13, 10:01 am
Free from NYC says:
Why is sex between two consulting adults a crime in the first place. Who cares if it's paid for or not. And how is getting it for free an better than paying for it. I'm a female, mid 20's, and while being able to attract the opposite sex, sometimes I have no patience to go through the whole ritual. It would be great when I want a nice interlude to just select and have one, perhaps an app even, then to be done with it - services rendered, fee paid, transition completed - that's it. Get rid of archaic laws.
April 14, 10:09 am
For the better good from Park Slope says:
There are those that are less successful then some in the social arena, often getting frustrated by their inability, and reverting to socially inappropriate or criminal behavior to satisfy their natural urges. Simply paying for sex may reduce socially inappropriate and criminal behavior which would benefit everyone, and more importantly the innocent victims themselves. Think outside the box and question everything.
April 14, 10:48 am
Susan from Bay Ridge says:
I think this is a dumb law. If it was legal and had control guidelines like all other businesses we'd all be a lot better off. Like marijuana, it's time for a change.
April 15, 12:29 pm

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