April 1st Radio Commentary

Penalty-Free Prostitution

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, April 1, 2011
By Sue Ella Deadwyler

Good morning, Jim. In Georgia it started two years ago, this movement toward penalty-free prostitution for underage males and females who choose prostitution as a fling or a profession.

Penalty-free prostitution for anyone under 18 will be state law, when H.B. 200 goes into effect July 1st, unless the governor vetoes it. This movement began here in 2009 with Representative Willard’s H.B. 582 – a one-page bill that simply said, “A person who is 18 years of age or older commits the offense of prostitution when he or she performs or offers or consents to perform [certain] sexual act[s] … for money or other items of value.” Willard’s bill went to committee and died.

But Senator Unterman really, really wants Georgia to have penalty-free prostitution to eliminate charges against underage prostitutes and porn workers. So, she introduced S.B. 304 last year and added victim compensation as another goal. Her bill lowered the age to under 16 for penalty-free prostitution and referred to a prostitute under 16 as a sexually exploited “child” and listed prostitution in the “unruly child” Code section, suggesting that prostitution is no more serious than playing hooky from school. S.B. 304 had a committee hearing, but it died, too.

This year Representative Lindsey introduced the more cleverly written nine-page H.B. 200 to throw the book at sex traffickers, pimps and johns, while creating penalty-free prostitution and give victim compensation to anyone under 18 who works the streets or gets a job in pornography or performs masturbation for hire. H.B. 200 passed the House 168 to 1 and the Senate 54 to 0 and will soon create another class of welfare recipients under 20 years old.

I expected Georgia senators and representatives to distinguish between sex trafficking victims and teenagers that aren’t victims, but, actually, choose prostitution and pornography as a way to make money. But since they didn’t make a difference between those two groups of prostitutes (those trafficked and those that choose that lifestyle), beginning July 1st teenagers could flock to Georgia, earn money in penalty-free prostitution and get paid again and again with state and federal victim compensation funds. H.B. 200 sets up a major culture shift – in the wrong direction. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.

H.B. 200 Update

Passed the House 168-1, 5 not voting, 6 excused on March 2, 2011
Passed the Senate 54-0 March 29, 2011

The sex trafficking section of H.B. 200 effectively camouflaged the real intent of H.B. 200.  That intent was very clear in Senator Unterman’s S.B. 304 of 2010 and H.B. 582 by Representative Willard in 2009.  Both S.B. 304 and H.B. 582 died in committee last year.

The goal of those two bills, as well as H.B. 200, was the decriminalization of sexually explicit conduct for anyone under 18, so they could qualify for victim compensation funds.

When H.B. 200 becomes law (which should be July 1), no criminal charges will be made in Georgia against individuals under age 18 involved in prostitution, sodomy/solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire and/or pornography and strip clubs.

Georgia will be a haven for male and female teenagers who choose to earn money with sexually explicit conduct and law enforcement officers will not be a preventive.  Laws will no longer restrict such acts, although sex traffickers, johns and pimps will get stiffer penalties.

They would not acknowledge the very obvious fact that some teenagers choose that lifestyle and should not be classified as victims or rewarded with victim compensation funds and benefits.  They were determined to classify all prostitutes, etc. as victims and they did.

February 25th Newsletter

Comments from the H.B. 200 Hearing

“We don’t want to make criminals out of victims,” said a judge.
My response, “We don’t want to make victims out of criminals.”

A Cultural Shift: Providing “Victim” Status to Prostitutes Under 18

Sex trafficking is a heinous crime whose victims should be rescued, protected and rehabilitated. But, tragically, some individuals choose prostitution and other illicit sex as professions. To classify professionals as victims is a miscarriage of justice that could encourage other youth to join them in unhealthy dangerous lifestyles.

In 2009 H.B. 582 was introduced to decriminalize prostitution and give victim status to anyone under age 18. It died in committee. In 2010, for persons under age 16, S.B. 304 would have decriminalized participation in prostitution and other sexually explicit acts. A substitute version of S.B. 304 listed prostitution and other sex crimes as “unruly child” behaviors, classifying youthful sex acts as no more serious than skipping school. S.B. 304 died in committee, also.

Both bills redefined all underage prostitutes as victims, including those that choose to prostitute themselves. Reasons for that: (a) Victims receive compensation from Georgia’s Crime Victims Compensation Board and the federal Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. (b) Victim status is a step toward establishing prostitution and other sexually explicit conduct as respected professions.

H.B. 200, this year’s bill by Representative Ed Lindsey, increases penalties for pimping and trafficking, but for sex providers under 18 no criminal charge would be made for prostitution or other illicit sex acts. They would be classified as victims, eligible for victim compensation.

H.B. 200 passed the Non Civil Judiciary Committee February 24th amid assurances that to qualify as victims, prostitutes of all ages must prove “coercion or deception.” However, the bill does not require that of underage prostitutes. If sexually explicit conduct is, simply, “obtained” (without coercion or deception) from persons under age 18, they would be included in the “sexual servitude” category, making them eligible for victim status and victim compensation.

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