Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"Perverse Incentives" Encourage False Reports of Human Trafficking

New California laws may reward prostitutes who make false accusations against their pimps.  

News flash: the prostitution business is illegal in California.  It's also booming.  With the rise of the internet and social media, buyers and sellers are finding new ways to ply the world's oldest trade. Meanwhile, police and prosecutors are struggling to make a dent in the state's illicit sex industry. Their latest tactic has been to target pimps and panderers -- the "managers" and "recruiters" of the prostitution industry.  Here's how it works.

California voters overwhelmingly approved Prop. 35 in 2014.  That ballot initiative imposed lengthy prison sentences on anyone who uses force or fear to deprive a victim of her personal liberty for the purpose of coercing her into prostitution.  That makes sense, right?  If a criminal holds a girl in slavery and forces her to engage in prostitution against her will, I think we all agree that he deserves to be punished harshly.

Since Prop 35 took effect, local police and prosecutors have received huge grants that are specifically earmarked for targeting sex traffickers.  These grants give law enforcement a strong financial motivation to deliver results.  And that's where a set of "perverse incentives" begin to reveal themselves.

Some police are now conditioned to act under the presumption that all streetwalkers are essentially slaves who were coerced into involuntary prostitution.  When a prostitute is arrested, she has a simple choice: either, 1) tell the police what they want to hear (that she is a victim who was forced to perform prostitution against her will), testify against her pimp and receive immunity, or else 2) deny that she was coerced into the job, go straight to jail and face criminal charges. Tough call, right?  It's easy to see how the incentives align to encourage false reports of "human trafficking".

If you or a loved one is accused of pimping, pandering or human trafficking in Southern California, call us for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 505-2468.  Ask for John.

Thanks for reading.

Orange County Human Trafficking Lawyer