Vice Squad
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Vice Criminalization and Crime Victimization

Co-blogger Nikkie recently shared the story of the poor misguided soul who complained to police that his female friend had taken both of their rocks of crack and not provided him with the agreed-upon reward. While little harm was done in that case, the fact that adult vices are criminalized puts vice providers and consumers, if not outside the protection of the law, at least at its fringes, and sometimes the costs are enormous. Last week brought this AP story concerning a string of killings of prostitutes who worked at truck stops in middle America: "Police reports show most of the seven women whose naked bodies were dumped near highways in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas from July 11 to Jan. 31 worked as prostitutes and were last seen at truck stops." While serial killers might not be that easy to deter, these women (those who worked as prostitutes, at least) were placed in an especially dangerous position because we have chosen to criminalize prostitution. In all likelihood, some of these deaths would not have occurred in a world in which prostitution was legal and regulated. What a huge price we pay for the criminalization of prostitution, and we willingly pay that price, it seems, even though we know that our efforts actually don't come close to eliminating (indeed, are not intended to eliminate) sex for money.

Here's an earlier (December 21) Vice Squad post concerning an Australian marijuana grower who called the police when robbers broke into his home.

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