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June 14, 2016

Sex Workers Condemn SB 1110 Diversion Programs

SAN FRANCISCO—Sex worker organizations today condemned provisions in SB 1110, a bill moving into the California Assembly Public Safety Committee , that establishes Law Enforcement Diversion Programs (LEADs) for sex workers. The bill gives police new powers to redirect sex workers into "diversion programs," allegedly as an alternative to arrest. But it allows police to decide who is diverted and who is not, creating an arbitrary process that circumvents the courts and denies sex workers due process. “Diversion programs are just another form of surveillance and criminalization,” said Maxine Doogan of the Erotic Service Providers Union. “Just changing the form of police harassment and criminalization from arrest to diversion doesn’t protect our constitutional and human rights.” SB 1110 was developed without input from sex worker organizations, such as the Erotic Service Providers Union (ESPU). And similar programs in New York City, Seattle, and the UK did not stop the harassment and criminalization of sex workers. Instead, they increased arbitrary police powers, cut into the ability of poor people who were trying to earn a living, and disproportionately impacted poor women, women of color, and trans people. “We don’t trust the police to protect us,” said Claire Alwyne of the Erotic Service Providers Union. “The police abuse their powers, whether it is the kind of corruption we see in Oakland, where police officers were trading sex with under age sex workers, or the callous disregard for the victims of the Grim Sleeper in LA, where law enforcement referred to the murders of prostitutes and drug addicts as NHI (No Humans Involved).” The ESPU calls on California legislators to remove the clauses in SB 1110 that affect sex workers, and to instead move forward with legislation to decriminalize sex work in California. The Erotic Service Providers Union (ESPU) is an organization by and for those who labor erotically to gain agency through industrial organizing for their occupational, social, and economic rights through affiliating with organized labor. It was founded November, 2004 in San Francisco, California.

 
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