Manhattan District Attorney to Stop Prosecuting Consensual Prostitution and Unlicensed Massage

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Last week, Manhattan’s District Attorney Cy Vance’s office announced it will no longer be prosecuting cases of consensual prostitution and unlicensed massage and requested a judge dismiss hundreds of such open cases as well as cases involving loitering for prostitution.

The DA’s office will still be prosecuting those who solicit prostitution or promote or participate in sex trafficking.

In other words, those who provide sex acts for money will no longer face charges, while those who pay for sex acts or pimp or traffic those who provide sex acts will still be prosecuted by Vance’s office.

According to the New York Times, he remains committed to fighting sexual exploitation or “otherwise profit from prostitution” and put an end to “punishing the people who for decades have borne the brunt of law enforcement’s attention.”

“Over the last decade we’ve learned from those with lived experience, and from our own experience on the ground: Criminally prosecuting prostitution does not make us safer, and too often, achieves the opposite result by further marginalizing vulnerable New Yorkers,” the progressive district attorney said in a statement last Wednesday.

His move is significant, as noted by The Times, as it puts “the weight of one of the most high-profile law enforcement offices in the United States behind the growing movement to change the criminal justice system’s approach to sex work.”

The Times also noted that many of the cases Vance’s office has moved to have dismissed date back to the ’70s and ’80’s when New York City was trying to clean up rampant crime and a reputation for vice.

Earlier this year, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez also moved to dismiss hundreds of open cases relating to prostitution and loitering for prostitution. The Queens and Bronx DA’s followed suit in March, also issuing requests to dismiss hundreds of open cases.

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