When most people in Minneapolis think of sex crimes, they likely think of forcible rape. It is understandable that they do, as it is one of the most widely reported on sex crimes in the media. There are other crimes, however, that do happen in the Twin Cities, including prostitution. Although some men and women engaged in prostitution have consensual intercourse with paying clients, others are forced into a life of sex work and have little way out. Regardless of the situation, if someone is caught by police, he or she will likely be charged with prostitution and face strict penalties.
Recognizing that a great deal of the men and women engaged in prostitution did not choose the life, New York has set up a series of specialized criminal courts designed to get individuals out of the sex trade. Although the program is relatively new, it may be something that Minnesota may wish to consider in its own fight against prostitution.
The program can provide cooperative defendants with numerous resources to keep them off the streets and out of the sex trade. Judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers will first evaluate the case. If they and the defendant are willing to enter the specialized program, the defendant will be given access to immigration assistance, shelter, drug treatment, education, job training and health care. The belief is that once done with the program, these men and women will be able to start a new life.
For now, however, Minnesota doesn’t have a similar program. If someone is picked up by police, he or she could be in serious trouble if convicted on prostitution charges.
Source: The New York Times, “With Special Courts, State Aims to Steer Women Away From Sex Trade,” William K. Rashbaum, Sept. 25, 2013