Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. announced Wednesday that the city will no longer prosecute “prostitution and unlicensed massage,” according to a press release from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Vance announced the new policy as he made a virtual appearance to dismiss 914 prostitution and massage cases and 5,080 “Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution” cases in Manhattan Criminal Court, the Manhattan D.A. Office reported.
Today, we announced a new policy to decline-to-prosecute prostitution and unlicensed massage, a first in New York State. D.A. Vance also joined @LegalAidNYC and @nyc_defenders in a motion to dismiss 900+ prostitution cases dating back to the 1970s. https://t.co/Zh6w7IPc6b
— Cyrus Vance, Jr. (@ManhattanDA) April 21, 2021
“Over the last decade we’ve learned from those with lived experience, and from our own experience on the ground: criminally prosecuting prostitution does not make us safer, and too often, achieves the opposite result by further marginalizing vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Vance, according to the Manhattan D.A. Office.
“For years, rather than seeking criminal convictions, my Office has reformed its practice to offer services to individuals arrested for prostitution. Now, we will decline to prosecute these arrests outright, providing services and supports solely on a voluntary basis. By vacating warrants, dismissing cases, and erasing convictions for these charges, we are completing a paradigm shift in our approach.”
Abigail Swenstein, the staff attorney who joined Vance during his announcement, discussed “the need to pass legislation that would fully decriminalize sex work and provide for criminal record relief for people convicted of prostitution offense.” (RELATED: Decriminalizing The Sex Trade In DC Empowers Pimps And Endangers Women Of Color, Activists Say)
Manhattan joined a growing list of cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia that refuse to prosecute sex workers, according to The New York Times.
Manhattan will continue to prosecute some crimes associated with prostitution such as sex trafficking, The New York Times reported.