Wrote a letter to the News Tribune and the Seattle Times today- if you happen to give a fuck about the sex industry, read it. Let me know what u think~
My fiance has made mistakes, and plenty of bad choices, as have I and millions of people every day. On April 8, Lakewood police organized a prostitution sting that resulted in the arrest of Steven Webb, my fiance, for the crimes of human trafficking & promoting prostitution. 47 years is the sentencing range he is looking at, and he’s 44 years old now. The rash and impulsive panicked lie of a 21-year-old scared to spend a week in jail has already cost him 7 months of his life. In exchange for saying she was forced to work by a pimp, she was given special treatment and allowed to go free. She had an incentive to allege force or coercion to avoid charges herself. Faced with the alternative of jail time, obviously such a practice openly encourages the creation of fictional stories about imaginary pimps. Or, to quote a Denver post article, “Prostitutes often avoid charges if they cooperate”.
This is not a case where any force or coercion was involved, nor is there even a hint of evidence that he ever received a penny from any of it. There is clear evidence and sworn statements that both alleged victims voluntarily and independently engage in sex work. These have been ignored, with the prosecution going forward with not the slightest hesitation. Other cases across the country have been dropped because it is the ethical obligation of the D.A.’s office to pursue only those charges which are supported by the evidence. The evidence in this case, the only evidence, was the alleged statements the Lakewood police detectives claimed were made by the alleged victims.
This begs the question. Why? Police departments around the country receive grants from the federal government to fight sex trafficking. So it stands to reason, that when they don’t find any “forced against their will” prostitute victims, they make them up, so that they won’t lose funding. That’s one theory, anyway. And a scary one.
Most (if not all) of the women I have met were not forced into prostitution, they were willing and wanted to do this type of work, and some went out of their way to do it. It is a lot of fast, easy money, and you don’t need a degree or a green card.
But the government has created an enticing incentive for a demographic that is often preconditioned to accept victimization, especially when it can be so obviously beneficial. All they have to do is lie and say someone forced them to do it (a favorite excuse since we were children, but not a valid one until now).
For example, if an illegal alien is the victim, all they have to do is lie and , based on the USA anti-traffic prostitution laws:
They don’t have to go to jail or be arrested
They get to stay and live in America
The U.S. government will provide them with housing, food, and education
They will be considered victimed refugees, and can can become American citizens.
The police and the prosecutor’s are potentially wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money and distorting facts while trying to find the elusive “victims” of a crime that is being grossly over prosecuted. Boyfriends, friends, anyone that a girl might have depended on to be able to call in an emergency, are being charged with a heinous crime, while the real criminals are free. Police are so determined to justify their actions that they openly refuse to believe people who claim they’re not victims and are just trying to make a living in today’s post-recession world. To claim insistently that all sex workers are simply brainwashed and manipulated by pimps is another paternalistic way to deny her collective voice. It is a common accusation and a subjugation strategy that has been used before and against many groups. It is eerily similar to women being accused of being manipulated by the church to be deprived their right to vote. Why can’t I just be an adult involved in sex work of her own free will?
What so many well-meaning people don’t seem to understand is that the “tough-on-crime” approach being applied to sex-trafficking is not legitimately helping sex trafficking victims, or any sex worker at all). Arresting an adult woman for prostitution, and calling it a “rescue” (involuntary rescue?) does not justify perpetuating the exploitation. If someone with a badge says she does not have the ability to make decisions for herself about sex , whereby the oh so humanitarian government steps in to “help” you realize that you are whatever they tell her, with added threats of criminal charges if she dares to proclaim her independence, how exactly is that any different from the theoretical “coercion” and “exploitation” from which she was supposedly just rescued? Exploiting a person for a good cause is still exploitation.
This is unconstrained and misplaced enthusiasm fueling the decision to prosecute a case in which the so-called victims have submitted signed declarations for the defense, effectively destroying the very basis of a case where by definition, there must be a victim.
People suspected of a crime have extensive due process rights in dealing with the police,and people charged with a crime have even more extensive due process rights in court. The decision whether or not to charge a person with a crime or dismiss them is possibly and probably the single most important event in the chain of criminal procedure, and it rests solely with the prosecutor. The unsuspecting boyfriend of any working girl could have his whole life, in a matter of moments, reduced to a prayer resting on the whim of an office that has become permeated by a culture of self righteousness that leads inexorably down a road where a conviction rate serves as a proxy for real justice.
Cases like this are a thinly disguised witch hunt , an unethical and unreliable narrow view of the sex trade, and leaving legitimate sex trafficking victims wide open and unprotected.