California should stop prosecuting exploited minors

August 08, 2016
Awareness of the sexual exploitation of young people in the United States and around much of the world is arguably at an all-time high. That’s why it is so dismaying to see a common-sense bill offered by state Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, facing criticism from law-enforcement groups and possible rejection by the state Assembly.

Mitchell’s bill, SB 1322, would follow the lead of several other states with similar “safe harbor” laws and ban the prosecution of minors for prostitution. The measure builds on the considerable evidence that nearly all of those under 18 who are selling sex are being exploited by pimps and human traffickers or are in desperate straits and engage in so-called “survival sex” to get money for clothing, food and shelter.

It is hard to fathom how giving criminal records to individuals in either circumstance is just, ethical or good for society.

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