End Felony Charges for Prostitution in Chicago

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Target: State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez

Goal: Support commissioners in asking for a moratorium on charging prostitutes with felony offenses.

As a result of overcrowding at Cook County jail, elected officials in Chicago are demanding an end to felony charges for prostitution. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has emphasized that the current law places too much focus on non-violent offenses and added: “We’re holding people in detention who ultimately will be sentenced to probation and released or have their charges against them dropped.”

In many ways, prostitution laws are an insult to the legal system. They punish people, primarily women, who are not doing anything violent or harmful to other human beings. These laws disproportionately target street workers, who are already more at risk for being on the receiving end of violence, and who are very likely to simply be people who are financially down on their luck and trying to do what it takes to get by. Such citizens deserve compassion and a chance to escape the system if they want to, not punitive measures taken against them for their poverty.

As it stands, Illinois has one of the worst prostitution laws in the nation. Only Illinois and 7 other states still consider prostitution a felony offense. Now, there’s a chance that Cook County might be changing its policy due to the budget problems caused by said policy. Like the war on drugs, prostitution laws are a disaster in terms of promoting the penalizing of vulnerable people, causing prostitutes and trafficked human beings not to report their pimps (as well as those who rape them, in the cases of prostitutes who are raped) and turning victims into criminals. Sign this petition to stand behind ending prostitution-as-felony laws in Cook County.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Anita Alvarez,

Commissioners of Cook County are now contacting you to ask for a moratorium on charging prostitutes as felony level offenders. I am writing to support those who are demanding these changes. Obviously, this would be better for your county in terms of finances, but I also believe that this is very much the right thing to do in any legal or ethical respect.

Most states no longer consider prostitution a felony. Only Illinois and seven others still regard prostitution as an offense worthy of being called a felony. I believe that it’s time to repeal these laws. Prostitution is a non-violent action; it certainly cannot be classed with murder, bank robbery, arson, or any other crime involving aggressive destruction or physical violence. Moreover, many prostitutes are themselves likely to be survivors of violence, often sexual violence, such as rape.

By treating prostitution as a felony, these laws make it more difficult for prostitutes who are the victims of violence or sex trafficking to come forward about the crimes they have experienced. In addition to the argument from compassion, there’s also the fact that, as I mentioned before (and as you are aware), not treating prostitution as a felony is fiscally beneficial for your infrastructure and for your county as a whole. Please go along with the commissioners’ request in putting a moratorium on felony charges for prostitution.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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91 Signatures

  • Lila Ezell
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