Thursday, March 21, 2013

Felony Prostitution Doesn't Make Sense Anywhere in Illinois: Take Action!

Yesterday, the Cook County Board heard a resolution to place a moratorium on felony sentencing for prostitution in the county, in response to overcrowding in Cook County jail. They also urged support of Senate Bill 1872, our End Demand Illinois legislation to eliminate the felony sentence statewide. Senate Bill 1872 passed unanimously in the Illinois Senate Criminal Law committee last week and will soon be called on the Senate floor.

Felony sentencing for prostitution doesn’t make anywhere else in Illinois, and Senate Bill 1872 eliminates it statewide.

“We appreciate that Cook County officials don’t want to see people charged with felonies for prostitution,” said Lynne Johnson, policy and advocacy director for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. “We urge lawmakers and the public to support Senate Bill 1872 to eliminate the felony upgrade for prostitution throughout Illinois. This is not just a Cook County issue, as it affects people in counties throughout our state.”

You can take action TODAY. Call your Illinois State Senator. You could say "I'm calling to ask the senator to support Senate Bill 1872 to eliminate the felony upgrade for prostitution in Illinois."
Want to know more?
  • Felony prostitution unfairly targets women for harsher punishments. The “solicitation” offense for customers does not have a felony upgrade for subsequent offenses and is rarely enforced. In 2011, when law enforcement charged under the state criminal code, there were 1,875 arrests for prostitution and 95 arrests for solicitation. Since 2010, 370 women have been admitted to IDOC for felony prostitution. Fewer than 10 people in Illinois have ever been convicted of the felony offense of “patronizing a prostitute” since its passage in 2010.
  • Felony prostitution sentencing is rare in the United States.  Only seven other states have a felony prostitution sentencing option for subsequent offenses. (Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Texas)
  • Felony prostitution is an expensive waste of diminishing local and state public safety resources. Illinois’ Department of Corrections reported 127 felony prostitution admissions for 2012, costing the state $2,011,680. Pretrial detention for those facing felony prostitution charges costs Cook County Department of Corrections between $5.3 to 9.5 million annually.
End Demand Illinois envisions a statewide response to prostitution that includes community-based, specialized services for survivors. To learn more about this legislation, visit the End Demand Illinois website.

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