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California politician suggests fix to state's brazen prostitution: Legalize it


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A San Francisco County leader voiced support to legalize prostitution in the city as brazen soliciting spirals across the state after a new law took effect this year.

"What’s happening right now on Capp Street is it’s become more brazen, and bigger than we’ve ever seen it before," county Supervisor Hillary Ronen told The Los Angeles Times last week.

"Instead of repeating the same cycle that we’ve repeated for decades, it’s time to try something new."

Ronen called the situation "out of control" in comments to the San Francisco Chronicle, and pushed for San Francisco to install barriers on Capp Street in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, after it became lined with prostitutes and pimps.

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This week, she is expected to announce a resolution that will urge state lawmakers to legalize prostitution. 

"I don’t think this is going to happen tomorrow. This would be a major change in policy and direction," Ronen told The LA Times "I certainly won’t be the first person to try to urge the legalization of prostitution, and I won’t be the last."

The surge in prostitution and apparent human trafficking in California comes after a change in law took effect last month that repealed a ban on loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution. The bill's sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, argued the change would protect transgender women whom he said are disproportionately targeted by police.

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"[The previous law] allowed police officers to arrest a person, not based on what they did, but based solely on how a person looks," Wiener recently told KGO-TV. "So, an officer could arrest someone because they were wearing tight clothing, high heels and extra lipstick."

Police and Republicans in the state have since sounded off that the new law sparked prostitution to explode in certain areas of the state, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland. 

Los Angeles police sources who spoke to Fox News Digital last week said the law is "definitely" handcuffing them from cracking down on prostitution. The police said that because of the reform they can only make arrests if a suspect admits to prostitution, which they said is a rarity.

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Police said with the emboldened prostitution rings come robberies, shootings, aggravated assaults and other crimes. Many of the pimps are gang-affiliated and take no issue with beating women or going after rival pimps who try to poach one of the workers, they said. Some even record the beatdowns because they "think it’s funny," police said.

The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, which is one of the largest and oldest direct service providers for sex and labor trafficking survivors in the U.S., threw its support behind the bill and told Fox News Digital that it endorsed repealing the former policy "because we know that reducing the criminalization of survivors will help prevent human trafficking."

"Traffickers rely on our systems to criminalize victims so that they are unable to access safety due to their records and are vulnerable to continued exploitation," Leigh LaChapelle, CAST's associate director of survivor advocacy, told Fox News.

A legislative aide to Ronen argued previous state and federal laws only chased "the problem around," and that legalization would remedy the prostitution issues. 

"We have tried many laws. Federal laws. State laws," Santiago Lerma, Ronen’s legislative aide, said according to KRON 4. "So, what we are hoping and trying to do is advocate for our state lawmakers to really address this issue and to legalize it."

San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tracy McCray responded to the plan and said: "Yeah, sorry. Not down with this." McCray pointed to the legalization of marijuana sales in her argument against legalizing prostitution. 

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"Not only were people going to the store to get marijuana, they’re still selling it out on the street. It didn’t stop anything," said McCray, according to KRON 4.

"You still have people being shot over marijuana," McCray added. "You still have businesses being robbed of their marijuana. It didn’t stop it just because they said we’re going to make it legal, and everything is going to be good. That did not happen."

Outreach director at the St. James Infirmary in San Francisco, Celestina Pearl, is supportive of a potential red-light district, but said the women working the streets should be included in such conversations about legalizing prostitution. 

"I think a town hall meeting with the interested parties, folks who would be affected by this, would be a really great first start," Pearl said.

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