San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution
Final Report 1996

Summary of Recommendations

In San Francisco, the current institutional perspective on prostitution can be summed up in one word: prosecution. Most health and social services are secondary to, or intertwined with, the enforcement and prosecution of soliciting crimes. Moreover, this approach is directed almost entirely at street prostitution, which is estimated to comprise only 10-20% of prostitution in the City.1Although the arrest and prosecution of soliciting crimes has increased dramatically over the last few years,2 the incidence of street prostitution shows no signs of subsiding, and neighborhood activists and business groups have become more and more vocal about the problems they perceive that street prostitution causes.3

It is no coincidence that the rise in enforcement and prosecution of soliciting crimes comes at the same time that the City budget for social services has been cut more drastically than at any time in the City's history.4 Unfortunately the rise in enforcement also seems to coincide with rising complaints against police officers of brutality and deprivation of civil rights.5. Moreover, the City Attorney has concluded that many of the anti-prostitution laws on the City's books are unconstitutional.

The Task Force concludes that the current prosecutorial response does a great deal of harm but little good. It has not solved the quality of life concerns voiced by neighborhood residents; it has cost the City millions of dollars; it deprives residents of positive services which would ameliorate the problems. Moreover, City residents overwhelmingly oppose enforcement and prosecution of prostitution crimes.6

The Task Force therefore recommends that the City departments stop enforcing and prosecuting prostitution crimes. It further recommends that the departments instead focus on the quality of life infractions about which neighborhoods complain and redirect funds from prosecution, public defense, court time, legal system overhead and incarceration towards services and alternatives for needy constituencies.7

These recommendations are expanded upon in the report along with recommendations about Health Services, Youth, Immigration; Labor Policy and Issues; and Implementation of Recommendations. Finally, the Task Force recommends that the City maintain a working group on prostitution to oversee implementation and use the City's dispute resolution resources to engender greater communication among neighborhood and business concerns and prostitute representatives.

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