Monday, February 16, 2009

Prostitution Crackdown in Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Now site has an article about the crackdown on prostitution taking place in Vegas.

With little fanfare and no public announcement, Las Vegas Metro Police have launched a crackdown on repeat-offender prostitutes in the Strip resort corridor. So far 29 suspected prostitutes have been arrested and are being processed through the criminal justice system.

Metro says the economy is just one of the reasons it is launching this enforcement effort now. With tourism numbers down, the department says it wants to keep visitors from being victimized by crimes related to prostitution. That means cracking down on repeat offenders and making sure they get tough sentences.

"To keep visitors from being victimized by crimes related to prostitution." It seems to me it would be hard to come up with a more ridiculous story than that. The "crimes related to prostitution" mentioned in the article are basically stealing from the clients. I seriously doubt that happens very often. I would think the working girls in Vegas are happy to turn tricks and generally don't ask for trouble by ripping off the source of their income. So, if we rule that out, the question remains, what's really going on here?

Las Vegas has been known since the time of its inception as a type of sin city. Prostitution is actually legal in Nevada outside Clark County, which is where Las Vegas is. In the city of Vegas, gambling is encouraged of course, drinking too, prostitution is generally tolerated, although technically illegal. So, it's difficult to reconcile the nature of Las Vegas with this type of initiative on the part of the Metro Police. If it's some kind of moral crackdown, in a place where folks are encouraged to be morally uninhibited, it's just absurd.

It does bring up some interesting questions though. What about the clients? Are they not being targeted? If not, why not? In an encounter between client and prostitute, are both in the wrong? Is one more in the wrong than the other? Is neither? What's your opinion?

Working girls in Las Vegas are often women who come there because they think it's "a proper venue to make an easy buck," as the police spokesman said. As such, they would seem to be operating with autonomy and agency and calling their own shots, at least more than your typical teenage hooker in a Tijuana brothel, let's say. What do you think about that? Is it possible for a woman to work as a prostitute without being a victim of the system, economic or otherwise?

In the article I linked to there is an amazing "slide show." It consists of photographs; I suppose trendy new color mug shots, of the girls who were arrested in the sweep. The amazing thing is that under each picture there's the number of views, the same way Youtube shows you how popular videos are. Combined with the fact that there was no mention of the clients except as poor victims of being ripped off, this vulgar display of the arrested girls along with their popularity rating made it clear in what low esteem this article, and perhaps Las Vegas itself, holds these women. What's your opinion? Is there another take on that slide show that I missed?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Mike,

    Since you've proven so resistant to reason in other areas, have to give it a go here.

    What can be done to stop the flow of formerly law abiding women into the crime of prostitution?

    Now perhaps if all these women were responsible prostitutes and didn't steal from their clients I might have less problems with it...but something has to be done to stop all these prostitution related crimes.

    Personally, I think it is the easy availability of condoms that is creating the problem (sorry can't resist) also there may be a strong correlation with Ex-Pats from Italy visiting Vegas.

    If we restrict the rights of those ex-pats, make them undergo background checks, maybe go to all day training classes,get expensive travel permits, we might stop the vast number of crimes.

    We could implement some reasonable restrictions for condom control. Let's require anyone purchasing them to show they aren't married or if married a doctor's note on why they should be allowed to purchase condoms.

    We can implement one-box a month laws, after all nobody really uses more then 24 condoms in a month. Maybe have each condom serialized so that the ones left at the scene of the crime can be traced back to the original purchaser ((NOTE TO SELF, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO CHANGE JOBS INTO CSI)).

    One box a month would also limit those straw purchases, maybe it is the fault of dads or uncles buying those condoms for the "teens" that shouldn't be allowed to have them. I know the teens say they are using them with their teen girlfriends....but better safe then sorry (would that really be the case here?). If legitimate condom users are a little inconvenienced, isn't that a small price to pay to stop this crime?

    Now don't even get me start on what laws would have to be enforced to keep women from starting down this crime path...just consider how helpful the burqa would be.

    Kinda silly isn't it Mike?

  2. Mike,
    The cynical part of me wants to say that maybe these girl are getting rated by the police dept for possible recruitment. There is corruption in every police organization and maybe the most popular girls in the slide show will get police protection in the future for a piece of their earnings.

  3. prostitution's yet another of those victimless "crimes" that shouldn't be crimes.

    one of the major problems with criminalizing "vice" is that it corrupts police. Radley Balko at has documented extensively how the "war on drugs" entices police to extort and blackmail drug dealers, steal and sell drugs, and so on. prostitutes often get similarly corrupt treatment from law enforcement; lurk on websites like SWOP, or ask bloggers like Ren Ev for some details.

    i say decriminalize it all, or even outright legalize it, and let adults take responsibility for their own actions.

  4. As so often happens around here, Nomen says it just right.

    "i say decriminalize it all, or even outright legalize it, and let adults take responsibility for their own actions."

  5. Mike,

    I agree with Nomen actually. But for the sake of argument, care to address my points in combating the crime of prostitution?

    Will any of those ideas work?
    Is it fair, legal, or constitutional to try any of those ideas?

  6. Bob, I herewith declare a total moratorium on absurd comparisons. Every time I tried to play along, you blasted me for not making sense, which is what always start out saying anyway. So, no more comparisons for me, thank you very much.

  7. Sorry Mike,

    But I have a constitutionally protect right to say silly shit. You set the example here when you start talking about stuff you don't know.

    By the way, the comparisons aren't silly. The items being compared are legitimate, what you aren't getting is it isn't about items, it is about RIGHTS.

  8. Wow, I just can't get over the comments about the women (human beings ya know) Legalize prostitution (at the very least decriminalize it). Have the women take it indoors and regulate their health. Treat them like they are valued for what they provide and not just tin cans to be thrown away and recycled as you please. And you know that limiting condoms or restricting condoms would cause more problems than you want to even think about.
    The ploice could then pay attention to the real thiefs/murders/politicians etc...and quick pocket pool playing with people trying to make a living and stimulate the economy so to speak.