(WATCH) Sex and the Cities


Like many American cities, New York City is suffering an alarming spike in crime. Some blame lax prosecution, with many offenses going unpunished. And now the Big Apple is one of numerous cities engaged in a new debate over the crime of prostitution. Will cracking down on the world’s oldest profession improve life for the community at large? Or should authorities ease up and look the other way? Lisa Fletcher reports.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

Ramses Frias: This isn’t how it should be. This isn’t what should be happening in a neighborhood with families.

Ramses Frias feels like his Queens neighborhood in New York City is unraveling, and his walk home from the elevated 7 train confirms it.

Ramses Frias: When you come home, you want to feel good. You don’t want to deal with, “Oh, let me walk past the massage parlor where they’re soliciting for prostitution.”

Lisa: How certain are you that’s prostitution happening there?

Frias: 100% certain. It’s a regular routine. And there’s no moral compass on this, you know? It’s like, what are we allowing to happen in this community?

The state of New York now among a handful of states considering proposals to do away with making prostitution a crime.

On our short walk in Jackson Heights, we passed at least two store fronts identified by locals as brothels — locations where people can pay for sex. They are illegal, but largely ignored by police.

Frias: I don’t get any inkling from any of the politicians of this area that things are going to change or that they are even trying to change it.

In 1976, New York state banned loitering for the purpose of prostitution. The law widely targeted Times Square, where prostitution was rampant. Clients, those who solicited — called “johns” — were largely targeted too.

It worked. That “get-tough” approach turned Times Square around. It’s now widely considered family-friendly and known as the crossroads of the world.

Now, a number of cities are looking to change the law, by partially or fully decriminalizing prostitution. Fully decriminalizing prostitution takes away the criminal penalties for selling or paying for sex. Proposals for it are being studied in at least 10 states, including New York. Partially decriminalizing it means sex-workers won’t face charges, but buyers will.

Maine was the first state in the nation to pass such a law in June. It’s estimated that 90% of prostitutes in the state are forced or manipulated — also known as trafficked — into sex work by organized criminals who profit financially from their victims.

John Pizzuro: If you address the small little things, you’re not going to have the bigger things, and it doesn’t spiral out of control.

John Pizzuro spent 25 years with the New Jersey State Police, where he investigated organized crime and human trafficking.

Lisa: Was there a direct line between New York City cracking down on prostitution and the safety and quality of life improving there?

Pizzuro: Yeah, so if you go back when things were successful, law enforcement was able to proactively look at quality-of-life crimes. Today, they don’t.

Two years ago, the state of New York got rid of that 1976 law that made it a crime to loiter for the purpose of prostitution. Months later, the district attorney in Queens dropped 700 prostitution cases, and Manhattan dropped 5,000.

Pizzuro says prostitutes are victims and should not be prosecuted, but he says those who are doing the victimizing — be it johns or traffickers — should not benefit from decriminalization laws.

Lisa: What do you make of this growing movement nationally to decriminalize, or even legalize, prostitution?

Pizzuro: A couple things. One, you’re going to create more of an environment where traffickers are going to use that to their benefit. Secondly, the victimization is only going to increase.

Lisa: Are the fears that these families are feeling in these communities legitimate?

Pizzuro: Yeah. I think that’s what people miss is that some people don’t choose where they have the ability to grow up, but aren’t they entitled to a safe environment? We are lacking that safe space by bringing elements that can create unrest in their lives.

Laura Mullen is a former sex worker in the New York City area. She was held captive by the notoriously violent gang MS-13, raped multiple times, and sold into prostitution. Even so, Mullen supports partially decriminalizing prostitution.

Laura Mullen: They know you’re vulnerable, so they’ll bring you in on something that they know that you need. So he had given me drugs and food, and so I owed him for what he had given to me. But I kept owing and owing and owing. And so with that, I was paying for, with my services.

Lisa: So the longer you stay, the more you owe.

Mullen: Right.

Lisa: And you had nowhere to go.

Mullen: No.

Fear of arrest and a criminal record kept Mullen from going to police for help.

Mullen: When I was sexually assaulted, I did not want to go forward to the cops. So if we can take that prostitution charge away, it is going to help the people that are in the street feel like they can go to law enforcement if there’s an issue.

Ramses Frias is concerned his community is losing its grasp on a place that once felt safe for families.

Frias: About two weeks ago, a lot of inter-agencies got together and tried to at least shut down two of them, but they are open again.

And that makes him worried about where it will all end up.

Frias: There are a lot of people in this community that feel the same way I do, and they’re just scared to say it.

Sharyl (on-camera): Who or what are driving the policy choices in states that are having this big discussion now like Massachusetts and New York?

Lisa: Probably two things. There’s a political movement that believes that the laws, like loitering for the purpose of prostitution, are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community. And then there is some evidence-based research, mostly from other countries, that shows when some of these laws are lifted, trafficking and prostitution diminishes, and it makes communities and women actually safer.

Watch video here.

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10 thoughts on “(WATCH) Sex and the Cities”

  1. work online and get paid more than $200 to $300 each hour. I learned about this job three months ago, and since I started working there, I have effortlessly made $10,000 without needing any internet skills. Just try it out on the related website.

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  3. Thomas Joseph Hussman

    Remember Bernard Goetz? After being repeatedly intimidated and robbed by groups of young black men in New York City, Goetz finally shot the robbers. Then the government arrived and promptly placed Mr. Goetz in prison for defending himself. Isn’t that just ducky.

    1. Lisa and Sharyl and Thomas Joseph Hussman,

      Regarding :

      “. . . And then there is some evidence-based research, mostly
      from other countries, that shows when some of these laws are
      lifted, trafficking and prostitution diminishes, and it makes
      communities and women actually safer.“

      Well, take out lawlessness from the
      category, “criminality,” by taking an
      offense off the law books—and be
      content with the perception of hav-
      ing diminished “trafficking and
      prostitution” ?

      Similarly, let’s alter the deadly disease
      of GAMBLING, by changing that term
      to “G A M I N G”—and it’s all good to
      have bets on sports or any competition,
      badly impacting otherwise moral/decent
      men and women ( and families ), being
      destroyed by that too-inevitable
      gambling addiction.

      The Holy Bible warns against GAMBL-
      ING, because it has all been tolerated
      before—to eventuate destruction of
      families and High Culture, the Holy
      Bible being an instruction book on
      what works and doesn’t to keep
      peace and well-being in com-
      munities,

      Let’s think more deeply, as the di-
      seases ( some now incurable ) and
      the women evilly seducing
      family men on the street are destruc-
      tive to High-Culture civilization.

      So, let’s simply sweep all of it under
      the Marxian Libertine Leftists’ “rug”
      of self-denial
      —and it’s all
      “good” ? !

      -Rick

    2. Lisa and Sharyl and Thomas Joseph Hussman,

      Regarding :

      “. . . And then there is some evidence-based research, mostly
      from other countries, that shows when some of these laws are
      lifted, trafficking and prostitution diminishes, and it makes
      communities and women actually safer.“

      Well, take out lawlessness from the
      category, “criminality,” by taking an
      offense off the law books—and be
      content with the perception of hav-
      ing diminished “trafficking and
      prostitution” ?

      Similarly, let’s alter the deadly disease
      of GAMBLING, by changing that term
      to “G A M I N G”—and it’s all good to
      have bets on sports or any competition,
      badly impacting otherwise moral/decent
      men and women ( and families ), being
      destroyed by that too-inevitable
      gambling addiction.

      The Holy Bible warns against GAMBL-
      ING, because it has all been tolerated
      before—to eventuate destruction of
      families and High Culture, the Holy
      Bible being an instruction book on
      what works and doesn’t to keep
      peace and well-being in com-
      munities,

      Let’s think more deeply, as the di-
      seases ( some now incurable ) and
      the women evilly seducing
      family men on the street are destruc-
      tive to High-Culture civilization.

      So, let’s simply sweep all of it under
      the Marxian Libertine Leftists’ “rug”
      of self-denial
      —and it’s all
      “good” ? !

      -Rick

  4. Thomas Joseph Hussman

    Remember Bernard Goetz? After being repeatedly intimidated and robbed by groups of young black men in New York City, Goetz finally shot the robbers. Then the government arrived and promptly placed Mr. Goetz in prison for defending himself. Isn’t that just ducky.

  5. I might agree with former police officer Pizzuro except NY has created a far greater problem than prostitution with their illilberal policies and defunding police. In many instances prostitution is not criminal when both parties are free to engage or not in a transaction. True there are those sex slaves and that must be policed and the pimps prosecuted to the max. I would double the penalty when a minor is involved as human trafficking is a violent crime.
    On the other hand there are women, and in today’s environment men, who willingly provide sexual favors for a price. When the person providing such favors do so freely and retain the entire income of that transaction, then there is no crime. Unless of course the morality police/politician/community decide they are morally superior or uncle sugar does not get his tax cut. I believe Heidi Fleisch would agree.

  6. I might agree with former police officer Pizzuro except NY has created a far greater problem than prostitution with their illilberal policies and defunding police. In many instances prostitution is not criminal when both parties are free to engage or not in a transaction. True there are those sex slaves and that must be policed and the pimps prosecuted to the max. I would double the penalty when a minor is involved as human trafficking is a violent crime.
    On the other hand there are women, and in today’s environment men, who willingly provide sexual favors for a price. When the person providing such favors do so freely and retain the entire income of that transaction, then there is no crime. Unless of course the morality police/politician/community decide they are morally superior or uncle sugar does not get his tax cut. I believe Heidi Fleisch would agree.

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