AB 186/SB 344: This bill is commonly known as the Safe Harbor bill and we are 100% behind it. This bill would not allow children under the age of 18 to be charged with prostitution. Last session, we were able to get prostitution of a child classified as child abuse, so this bill is the next logical step. If a child is a victim of abuse, how can they be charged for the abuse they suffered? This bill has the support of Wisconsin’s Attorney General and Department of Justice, along with bipartisan sponsorship. We have been working on getting a bill like this passed for over 4 years now and hope this is the year it will finally happen! Bill text can be found here
AB 400/SB 308: This bill would increase the penalty for patronizing a prostitute from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class I felony if they have been convicted of this crime twice in the past. Fierce Freedom supports this bill because it helps fight the demand for sexual exploitation. Bill text can be found here
AB 435: This bill would create a $5,000 surcharge for anyone convicted of soliciting or patronizing a prostitute, pandering or keeping a place of prostitution. The funds from this would be used for victim services and to help fund specialized law enforcement operations. Bill text can be found here
On the surface this seems like a good law. We do have our concerns that some of the parts included could be used to charge prostitutes and not just the buyers of sex. We also have concerns because bills like this have been proposed in the past but haven’t been passed because they are cumbersome to administer and difficult to collect fines incurred.
One to watch: There is another bill in draft form that would create a new law to give higher penalties to those that patronize a prostitute who is under the age of 18. Because this bill is only in draft form, there is no bill number associated with it yet. We agree with the concept of this law but do not want to see this passed. We are making progress in the state to get people to see that children cannot be prostitutes, they are not old enough to legally consent so therefore cannot be prostitutes and we fear putting a law like this on the books would take our state back a few steps in regards to victim care.
There are currently other laws on the books like child enticement or trafficking of a child that would cover situations laid out in the proposed law. We feel this law is unnecessary, redundant and would reinforce the mistaken idea that children can be prostitutes. If a child is being prostituted, it is child abuse and by creating a law that deals with patronizing a child prostitute, Wisconsin is sending the wrong message. We are opposed to this bill.