On May 18, we issued a statement expressing concerns with the California Law Enforcement-Assisted Diversion Bill SB1110, and voicing general support for interim criminal justice system reforms as we push for the decriminalization of sex work.
Since then, we have also engaged in conversations with California-based sex worker and women of color-led organizations, further research, and internal conversation. Finally, we have closely followed political developments in California, including the failure SB 1286, the “Enhance Community Oversight on Police Misconduct and Serious Uses of Force” bill, and news of Oakland police sexual extortion involving a minor.
Despite positive changes to SB1110, we now join our allied organizations, including three of our California-based chapters, in requesting the prostitution parts of the bill be removed.
We wish to center the voices of our California-based allies and honor their knowledge and awareness of police culture and political climate in their areas. We are also uncomfortable supporting a bill about sex workers that was developed without consulting local sex worker organizations. While we support interim reforms that lead to decriminalization, we are concerned by the possibility that LEAD funding will help expand police enforcement of prostitution laws, particularly without transparent police misconduct mechanisms, given recurring police sexual misconduct and coercion in California jurisdictions exploring LEAD and police department minimization of recent misconduct involving a minor involved in the sex trade.
We support the concept and harm reduction principles of low-barrier, pre-booking diversion programs, especially in areas where individuals still receive felony charges and jail time for prostitution-related charges. However, due to the specific nature of prostitution policing and unique vulnerabilities of sex workers, these stakeholders must have a meaningful role in shaping future programs in order for us to feel comfortable supporting their implementation.