Manhattan's District Attorney Cyrus Vance released a statement on Wednesday that his office will no longer prosecute prostitution cases and has tossed out and dismissed 5,080 loitering for the purpose of prostitution cases. The office has also repealed the state's statute known as "Walking While Trans," which is said to lead "to discriminatory enforcement by targeting women from marginalized groups, that are at high risk for sex trafficking and other exploitation and abuse," according to the New York Senate website.
"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, according to the Manhattan DA website.
According to the New York Post, Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez has also moved away from prosecuting prostitution, but only after defendants are offered services or enrollment in programs which the state has designed to help people in these situations.
Rev. Dr. Que English of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition said, "This announcement shows that the Manhattan DA is committed to changing its approach to the sex trade by decriminalizing people who are in prostitution and supporting those most at risk of exploitation."
Cecilia Gentili, founder of Transgender Equity Consulting, said, "This resolute action to actively decriminalize sex workers is the kind of change our community has been hoping for, advocating for, for decades."
Queen, Brooklyn, and Bronx, DA's have all decided, in response, to dismiss all cases and vacate all bench warrants deriving from prostitution.
Vance went on to add, "For years, rather than seeking criminal convictions, my Office has reformed its practice to offer services to individuals arrested for prostitution. 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. 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."
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