The California Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would remove mandatory minimum jail sentences for repeat prostitution offenses.
Under current state law, a second conviction guarantees at least 45 days in jail, which increases to a minimum 90-day sentence for a third offense and beyond. The court can also restrict an individual’s driving privileges for up to six months if the act occurs within 1,000 feet of a private residence.
Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, who authored the bill, said the current “tough-on-crime” approach does not deter prostitution and merely discourages victims of human trafficking and those who engage in sex work as a means of survival from participating in diversion and drug treatment programs that might otherwise reduce their jail time.
“Mandatory minimum jail sentences for prostitution are an expensive and highly flawed policy, and should not be forced upon the victims of human trafficking,” Monning said.
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Senate Bill 1129 was approved by a vote of 23-14, with Republicans opposed and most Democrats in favor. It now heads to the Assembly. It comes amid a renewed interest in human trafficking this legislative session, as lawmakers debate whether prostitutes are criminals or victims.