Jerry Brown who is the Governor of California passed a Senate Bill 1322, which was signed on September 26 2016, and it went into effect on Jan 7 2017. In other words the bill will decriminalize prostitution for minors.
They are instead to be treated as victims who can be placed into a safe environment by the Department of Social Services, keeping them out of the criminal justice system and potentially off the streets again. The people who forced them to be a prostitute should be the ones that are criminals.
One of our staff members who is a social worker at Helix High school, Danielle Yee, read about the bill that was passed and quoted that “child prostitutes are not to be treated as criminals but as victims who were influenced or forced to be a child prostitute”.
While supporters of the bill argued that it would provide a better way to connect young victims with social services, opponents have disagreed that it would prevent law enforcement in the state of California from helping vulnerable children who often don’t see themselves as victims, but run away from unsecured shelters and remain tied to their traffickers through complicated psychological and emotional bonds.
Kristin Olsen have taken this law as a mistake. She believes that right now the best way to get these young women help, and the best way to rescue them from this lifestyle is by keeping law enforcement involved through the ability to arrest. She quoted that “Maybe in a few years from now, when we are doing better job at both the state and local level, we will better equipped and ready for this bill because services to young women will be readily available. But we are not there yet.”
They are instead to be treated as criminals who are placed into a Jail by the state of law, and keeping them into the criminal justice system and potentially learning that they can learn from their mistake.
Decriminalizing underage prostitution is good public policy that will help victims of sex trafficking.