Rep. Liz Linehan (D-Cheshire, Southington, Wallingford) introduced legislation recently to increase the penalties for any person convicted of soliciting a prostitute. The proposed bill would make soliciting a prostitute a Class C felony and add perpetrators to the sex offender registry after two convictions.
The crime is currently a misdemeanor and soliciting a prostitute—even one who is a minor—is not an offense linked to the registry.
“It’s time to change the belief that prostitution is a victimless crime; many sex workers are, in fact, victims themselves,” Rep. Linehan said in a press release. “That we continue to punish sex workers – many of whom have been coerced into this work or do it out of economic desperation – without looking at the other side of the equation just doesn’t make sense. We need to shift the focus to the consumers, and by increasing penalties for soliciting sex we can decrease the demand.”
The press release cites a recent study by the Connecticut Trafficking in Persons Council (CTPC) which found that sex workers were seven times more likely to be convicted of a crime than ‘johns.’
“The Legislature’s Trafficking in Persons Council has embarked on a Connecticut Campaign Against Demand in order to focus attention on those buying sex. When men buy sex they create demand which fuels sex trafficking in our state,” CTPC chair Jillian Gilchrest said in the release. “Rep. Linehan, and the legislation she has introduced, recognizes the importance of targeting buyers in order to prevent the sex trafficking of our state’s women and children.”
Under Connecticut law, a misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail but does not automatically result in jail time. Class C felony charges have a minimum jail sentence of one year if found guilty.