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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77109 Find in a Library
Title: Edward G Donley Memorial Lecture - Non-victim Crime and the Regulation of Prostitution
Journal: West Virginia Law Review  Volume:79  Dated:(Summer 1977)  Pages:593-606
Author(s): J Kaplan
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 14
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper discusses the concept of regulating prostitution; arguments against decriminalization are explored, and prostitution is considered in the context of other consensual or victimless crimes.
Abstract: In one sense, it is inaccurate to call gambling, drug offenses, homosexuality, pornography, and prostitution victimless crimes. Participants, their families, and society in general must be considered victims of such activities. Laws forbidding these activities have strong moral and emotional overtones. Although there are many similarities in the problems presented by the various victimless crimes, there are important differences among them; a legal arrangement which will lessen the problems caused by one may not work with respect to another. In contrast to the other specified activities, prostitution has received very little in the way of scholarly thought or empirical study. Prostitution is a 'revolving door' crime, in which those arrested are given minimal sentences and are quickly back on the streets. In addition, there is a strong element of hypocrisy in the enforcement of prostitution laws. The customers, who are as guilty as the prostitutes, are virtually never prosecuted. Another hypocrisy of our prostitution laws lies in the methods by which they are enforced. Laws on entrapment and on conviction beyond a reasonable doubt make it extremely difficult to catch even obvious prostitutes. As a result, police officers often perjure themselves to meet what they regard as the technicalities of the law. Finally, there is a strong element of financial corruption in the enforcement of such laws. Arguments against decriminalization include exploitation of the morals of prostitute and client, regression of society, collapse of social institutions, and abuse of prostitutes by pimps. The article suggests that regulation of prostitution is preferable to decriminalization. In addition to providing a means to record who is working in the business, the noncriminal threat of withdrawal of licenses would be a powerful incentive to prevent even minor exploitation of either customers or prostitutes. Although regulation would not provide a perfect solution, it is preferable to present laws and would make prostitution less of a social and moral problem.
Index Term(s): Criminal Solicitation; Decriminalization; Law reform; Prostitution; Regulations
Note: This article is the revised text of a speech given by the author at the 18th Annual Edward G Donley Memorial Lecture conducted at the West Virginia University Law Center on March 22 and 23, 1977.
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