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In California, Police Can No Longer Arrest Children For Sex Work

A California law aims to curb child prostitution by removing penalties against child sex workers, but opponents say it could have the opposite effect.
Posted at 9:30 PM, Dec 30, 2016

A controversial new law in California is removing all penalties for children soliciting or engaging in prostitution starting Jan. 1, and it's sparked a fierce debate.

Opponents of SB 1322 say it's essentially legalizing child prostitution. California Assemblyman Travis Allen said it's opening the door for more child prostitutes and "renders law enforcement powerless to stop the cycle of abuse."

But those in favor of SB 1322 say it will cut down on child sex trafficking. They argue children in that situation should be helped, rather than punished.

If caught, children can be placed in "civil protective custody." That way social services can try to help them get out of the situation that got them there. Before, they could have faced fines, probation or even jail time.

The bill's author argued that "there are no child prostitutes" only victims, because minors can't legally consent. Anyone caught forcing a child into prostitution or soliciting them is still subject to the previous laws.

Even some in favor of the rule say California doesn't have enough money to effectively help the children that are detained.

But the bill's co-author said California's 2017 budget will have an additional $20 million for social services to address that problem.