Via press release:
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., today announced the Office’s new policy to decline-to-prosecute prostitution and unlicensed massage, and appeared virtually in Manhattan Criminal Court and moved to dismiss 914 Prostitution and Unlicensed Massage cases – in line with the Office’s new policy – preventing unnecessary future contacts with the criminal justice system, eliminating the collateral consequences associated with having a prostitution case or conviction, and empowering New Yorkers to interact with law enforcement without fear of arrest or deportation.
D.A. Vance also moved to dismiss 5,080 Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution cases, following New York State’s repeal of the statute known as “Walking While Trans” earlier this year. “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 District Attorney Vance.
“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.
“With today’s dismissals, we also 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. I was proud to support the repeal of this bill, and thank Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, and the many, many survivors and advocates who fought to put an end to this practice. Indeed, none of this would have been possible without the tireless work of dedicated individuals who changed not only our laws, but law enforcement’s understanding of their lived experiences.