Plenty of local folks will tell you there are many and better ways to approach the sex work industry and sex workers. There are advocates who want to start by making prostitution legal, while others say the best approach is to stop criminalizing prostitutes and figure out ways to steer men and women from prostitution.
A recent AlterNet story gives hope that may some states are getting closer to taking the criminal focus away from prostitutes:
The latest example of this shift to view people in prostitution as victims rather than criminals is last week’s passage of a bill removing the felony penalty in Illinois — which has some of the harshest prostitution laws in the country. The legislation sailed through the Illinois Legislature, after a decade of work by End Demand Illinois, a coalition that wants to see prostitution eliminated. The highest penalty for selling sex in the state will now be a Class A misdemeanor.
“There are very, very few crimes, in my view, that exist in the criminal code, that you can truly say in this instance, the perpetrator is likely as much a victim as they are a perpetrator,” said Illinois state Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican and former prosecutor, when the bill was being debated. “People who would disagree with that would say, ‘there’s a notion of personal responsibility here. They decided to do it.’ And you know, in the strictest of legal terms, there’s no doubt that that’s true. But the situations that most of these young ladies find themselves in are unlike any situations that I bet any of us have encountered, and I hope none of us ever have to encounter.”