Manhattan Will No Longer Prosecute Prostitution, Unlicensed Massage

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. speaks at global cyber security symposium at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on November 18, 2015 in New York City. Vance called for a better way for government agencies to access private data in an effort …
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Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. announced Wednesday that his office will no longer prosecute prostitution and unlicensed massage, marking a shift in focus on the justice system’s involvement in sex work.

A press release on the decision from the New York County District Attorney’s office concluded the prosecution of prostitution “does not make us safer.”

“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,” said Vance.

“For years, rather than seeking criminal convictions, my office has reformed its practice to offer services to individuals arrested for prostitution,” Vance continued. “Now, we will decline to prosecute these arrests outright, providing services and supports solely on a voluntary basis. By vacating warrants, dismissing cases, and erasing convictions for these charges, we are completing a paradigm shift in our approach.”

Vance announced the policy change during a virtual appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court, where he moved to dismiss 914 prostitution and unlicensed massage cases, several of which dated back to the 70s and 80s.

“These cases — many dating back to the 1970s and 1980s — are both a relic of a different New York, and a very real burden for the person who carries the conviction or bench warrant,” Vance added.

In addition, Vance moved to dismiss 5,080 Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution cases.

Vance said the dismissals has given the New York City borough a chance to “close the book on Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution, known as the ‘Walking While Trans’ for its decades of discriminatory enforcement, unfairly targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

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