On November 19, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison held a press conference to announce an important development. This time, he was not celebrating a major drug bust or outlining a new departmental policy. Rather, he gathered local reporters to tell the public that the Baltimore Police Department BPD was cracking down on sex work.
Nineteen men, ages 26 to 78, were arrested for attempting to solicit sex from undercover officers during the month of November. The mugshots and full names of the 19 men, appeared in news reports Baltimore craigslist prostitutes next day. The presser was an unexpected one for Baltimore City, where annually more than homicides and endless scandal tend to occupy headlines. Although the exchange of sex for money is illegal in Maryland—as it is in the rest of the country, outside of a few counties in Nevada—police have ificant discretion around how they handle the issue.
Before Harrison, BPD leadership had not announced any ificant crackdowns on prostitution within the city since the zero tolerance era of the s. And if prostitution is a priority of the Harrison administration, it was not included in his Crime Reduction Strategyreleased in June.
None of the 19 men in the story were identified as pimps, traffickers, or repeat violent offenders. Maryland Judiciary Case Search records indicate that all but three of the men were arrested for solicitation alone, with many first-time offenses.
Otherwise, the sting produced one second degree assault charge, two drug possession charges, and a public urination charge. The implication was that sex workers themselves were not the target, as the arrests resulted from undercover police officers posing as sex workers.
Some law enforcement experts and anti-trafficking advocacy groups consider it to be a more successful approach than arresting sex workers. Both actions employ low-level misdemeanor arrests or the threat of them to ease the discomfort of residents and commuters. Anyone under the age of 18 who engages in sex work is also considered trafficked.
Trafficking laws are distinct from laws against prostitution. He often spoken about prostitution as contributing to crime and social decay.
A moralistic attitude towards sex work has pervaded some of the ways that Harrison, an expressly religion man seen speaking in preacher-like tones before a church audience in this clipand other New Orleans officials discussed this issue. In JanuaryNOPD made national news for a mass raid on eight strip clubs in the French Quarter, in partnership with state agencies.
The clubs were shut down one month before Mardi Gras. Yet, as The Appeal reportedno trafficking victims or perpetrators were caught in the sting. Dancers, who were working legally in the clubs, led protests around the closure of their places of business and drew attention to mistreatment by police.
NOPD reportedly never followed up. At different times in his career, Harrison has suggested that sex workers are victims in need of rescuing by police.
But sex workers in Baltimore have reported that police can be as dangerous to them as clients—and sometimes the police are the clients. One study examined the experiences and conditions of sex workers; the other surveyed the attitudes and practices of BPD officers. The first study collected data between from street-based, cisgender female sex workers FSW in Baltimore. About 78 percent reported having had abusive interactions with police; for 41 percent, this happened at least weekly; for 48 percent, this abuse constituted sexual harassment or assault.
About 23 percent reported having been pressured by police to exchange sex for no arrest; and about 17 percent reported having police officers as clients. In the last few years, there have been more media stories about Baltimore police officers having sex with, assaultingor trafficking sex workers as there have been stories about successful local trafficking busts.
The Department of Justice DOJ report on BPD disclosed a case involving a BPD officer coercing sex in exchange for money or immunity from arrest, as well as other abusive gender-based practices, such as strip searches. Jacqueline Robarge, Founder and Director of Power Inside, an outreach and harm reduction program for women, confirms that police abuse is a serious and underreported issue among sex workers.
InRobarge helped get a law passed in Maryland making it illegal for law enforcement officers to have sex with anyone in their custody. At that time, a of cases around the country were spotlighting the loophole in state laws that did not already outlaw this practice.
Robarge says that there are police officers that are known among sex workers to be repeat offenders. If this complaint is true, the officer broke the law on sex with detainees and prisoners. According to meeting notesCRB members voted to investigate this case. The CRB has not responded to requests for an update on this case. She gave a presentation on the subject during the February CRB meeting. This study was conducted primarily through ride-alongs with 64 patrol and Vice officers 86 percent male and interviews with leadership.
The officers knew they were being observed, so the presumably show BPD on its best behavior.
Still, with some exceptions, the researchers overheard negative and dehumanizing language used to describe FSWs. Can you believe that? The study points out that sex workers are generally afraid to report abusers, rapists, and traffickers in the community for fear of arrest, which makes them especially vulnerable to serial rapists and murderers.
One conclusion of the Hopkins study is that BPD is not working for everyone in the city equally. He explains how other charges, like drug or gun possession, are used to coerce possible information on homicides or robberies from sex workers. Baltimore City law allows police to detain sex workers and others on the street without even evidence of an exchange of sex for money.
Inthe Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion LEAD program was initiated to divert people arrested for prostutition pre-booking into community-based services. Not everyone is accepted, and only prostitution charges are diverted, but it can provide an alternative to incarceration. Multiple sources interviewed for this article describe how LEAD holds the threat of rearrest over participants that may struggle to comply with strict requirements, including drug testing, attendance, and no longer engaging in sex work. I do not need to be saved. In the last decade, it has been increasingly common to hear policy makers, police leaders, and media reports conflate or confuse sex work with trafficking.
Harrison Baltimore craigslist prostitutes been more careful not to generalize in his statements but still often blurs the line. A raid on strip clubs in downtown Baltimore was reported by some local outlets as an anti-trafficking sting; the same raid was reported by the Baltimore Sun as simply a gang bust.
That sex work is not always a safe or desirable profession for everyone complicates public understandings of consent and trafficking. There are often considerable intersections among these groups that drive people into sex work and keep them there.
When clients short me of my money, when clients sexually assault me, I wish there were labor conditions in place where I could complain.
So those bad days are a result of policies. The U. Still, his scenario speaks to the hysteria and misinformation surrounding trafficking concerns. One consequence of the anti-trafficking movement has been increased criminalization of all sex work. It led to the shutdown of Back, Craigslist personals, and other sites for advertising sex.
Sex workers also lost a tool for screening Baltimore craigslist prostitutes. Human rights groups fought aggressively against the passage of these laws for these reasons. Even many law enforcement agencies opposed the law. Back was one tool they used to catch traffickers. When it comes to adults, G. InBaltimore City Councilperson for District 8 Kristerfer Burnett created a task force to organize around trafficking at the local level. Multiple sources interviewed for this article report that trafficked individuals in Baltimore usually end up incarcerated.
This includes minors. Although prostitution charges are usually dropped against victims, other charges persist, such as robbery or drug possession committed under coercion. A study released earlier this year, from the University of Baltimore, showed how commonly trafficking victims are imprisoned and how difficult it can be for them to ever expunge such charges.
One interesting finding in the Johns Hopkins BPD study was that some of the participating BPD officers expressed wanting to see prostitution legalized. The movement towards lifting criminal penalties around consensual adult sex work has been growing in the U.
Most models of legalization around the world regulate when and how sex work can operate.
But the perspective they brought was incredibly helpful. Many human rights organizations—including Amnesty International and the United Nations World Health Organization—advocate instead for full decriminalization of the adult consensual sex trade. Decriminalization would make it easier for sex workers to work from home, without facing the risk of eviction, as well as to leave the trade if they choose, on their own terms.
Decriminalization would also give sex workers the chance Baltimore craigslist prostitutes openly share their stories, participate in civil leadership, and advocate publicly for the needs of their community. As most of the industrialized world marches towards some form of reduced penalties around sex work, Baltimore seems to be headed in the other direction, for now. Photo by Robin Marquis. ZIP: 21218 21211 21210 21213 21212 21215 21214 21217 21216 21231 21230 21239 21251 21209 21202 21206 21207 21205 21226 21201 21223 21224 21225 21229 21203 21233 21263 21264 21270 21273 21275 21278 21279 21281 21287 21290 21297 21298