Vice Squad
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Rhode Island Vice

After the US Supreme Court decision was announced on Monday, the Rhode Island Senate went ahead and voted, 34 to 2, to give state imprimatur to medical marijuana. If the bill passes in the house as well, the governor intends to veto it.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Rhode Island is one of those states where the anti-prostitution statutes don't seem to cover some forms of commercial sex, in this case, indoor activity of the type that might take place in a brothel or a massage parlor. The mayor of Providence wants to broaden the language of the prostitution ban to eliminate this disparity. Before he goes too far, however, he might want to look at the "two-track" policy advocated by George Washington University sociologist Ronald Weitzer. Here's a sample from a newspaper article Professor Weitzer wrote in response to the attempt to more-or-less decriminalize prostitution in Berkeley:
...Many cities, but not all, devote enormous resources to combating escort services and to busting massage parlors -- even though citizens rarely complain about this indoor commerce. Some cities spend as much as half their vice budget on the indoor trade, and such operations typically involve elaborate, time-consuming stings to entrap the workers. Louisville, Ky. , for example, has recently spent a great deal of time and money on an undercover investigation of massage parlors, and the federal government has conducted its own stings in several states. Cracking down on discrete, indoor prostitution often has the unintended effect of increasing the number of streetwalkers, thus exacerbating the most dangerous side of the sex trade.

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