House passes pair of bills to combat commercial sex trade
Thanks to strong bipartisan collaboration, two measures aimed at reducing the commercial sale of sex in Washington state passed the House unanimously today.
House Bill 2692 would impose heftier fines on johns convicted of soliciting sex from victims of the sex trade.
“Under current law, anyone convicted of patronizing a person being sold for sex in Washington state must pay a fine amounting to a mere $150, in addition to any court costs,” said Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) who authored the bill. “My legislation would increase the severity of the financial repercussions on the johns, with the revenue being put toward helping law enforcement arrest and divert users, and helping these young victims get out of the sex trade industry.”
Orwall's bill establishes a $1,500 for a first offense, $2,500 for a second offense, and $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense. These fines may not be reduced, suspended, or waived. The revenue generated by these higher fines would be used to fund “john schools” with programs designed to educate offenders about the negative costs of prostitution.
“Raising the amount of the fines imposed on johns is a small, but significant step to provide more and better services enabling our youth to avoid a life of sexual exploitation,” said Orwall.
The funds must also be spent on prevention and rehabilitative services such as mental health and substance abuse counseling, parenting skills training, housing relief, education, vocational training, drop-in centers, and employment counseling to help individuals transition out of the sex trade.
The other measure, House Bill 1983, prime sponsored by Rep. Kevin Parker, would increase the penalties for those convicted of promoting prostitution to $3,000 for a first offense, $6,000 for a second offense, and $10,000 for a third or subsequent offense. The measure would also direct the revenue from these penalties to local jurisdictions to help pay for increased enforcement and prevention measures.
“This legislation sends a firm message to those abusing women and children through prostitution that Washington state will not put up with their criminal behavior any longer. It is meant to be a deterrent for such crimes,” said Parker (R-Spokane). “Those who are caught promoting prostitution will pay more, and this money will be used to help victims transition away from the unfortunate situations they find themselves in.”
Both bills now head to the Senate for further consideration.
Photo: Reps. Tina Orwall and Kevin Parker discussing legislation.
###Washington State House Republican Communications