Monday, January 19, 2009

And both feet on the floor

From the Providence Journal....
"...Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a bill that would close the loophole in this state’s laws that makes prostitution legal if it occurs indoors."

Say again please?

“A lot of people don’t realize that prostitution is legal in Rhode Island if you do it indoors,” State Police Inspector Stephen Bannon testified. In an accompanying letter, State Police Supt. Col. Brendan P. Doherty noted that under current law, “persons are free to solicit sex for money in newspapers and/or over the Internet as long as the conduct that is agreed upon takes place in private.”

Count me among those people. Massachusetts residents might not have had time to notice all the legal nooky we could be having, so busy are we driving into New Hampshire for cigarettes and tattoos.

But now the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (little state, big name) is thinking it should pencil some things in around that topic. What would Roger Williams say? Probably after "shut up Massachusetts, I don't happen to be addressing you," he might add...

"The greatest crime in the world is not developing your potential. When you do what you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world."-- Roger Williams

See how fun quotations out of context can be?

Let's break down this legal conundrum.

When did this law go into effect?
It's not so much that there is a law reading "oh yea, oh yea, the Chicken Ranch is now in operation." In fact it is the wake of a specifically written "Prostitution and Lewdness" statute that outlaws pandering and brothels without actually outlawing prostitution.

With all the synonyms they brought off the bench to pass this law, you'd think someone might have noticed. But then, this is the actual text (take a deep breath):

§ 11-34-1 Pandering. – (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to secure a person for a house of ill fame, or to procure for a person a place as inmate of a house of ill fame; or by any promise, threat, by abuse of person, or by any other device or scheme, to cause, induce, persuade, or encourage a person to become a prostitute, to enter upon or lead a wanton or dissolute life, to become an inmate of a house of ill fame, to enter a place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed, or remain in it as an inmate, or to come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution. It shall be unlawful for any person to receive or give, or agree to receive or give, any money or thing of value for procuring or attempting to procure any person to become a prostitute, to enter upon or lead a wanton or dissolute life, or to become an inmate of a house of ill fame, either within or without this state, or come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution. It shall be unlawful for any person by any means to keep, hold, or detain against his or her will or restrain any person in any place for the purpose of prostitution, or in a house of ill fame or other place where prostitution is practiced or allowed for any purpose; or to directly or indirectly keep, hold, detain, or restrain, or attempt to keep, hold, detain, or restrain in any house of ill fame or other place where prostitution is allowed or practiced, any person by any means for the purpose of compelling that person, directly or indirectly, to pay, liquidate, or cancel any debt, dues, or obligations incurred or said to have been incurred by that person.

I think you know how hard it is to get people to read the material before the change management meeting.

A 2007 document amends the act with the explanation, "This act would define the crime of prostitution to include any location, would create
punishments for individuals who would attempt to procure the services of a prostitute, and would define the crime of permitting prostitution within a premise. "

It forgot to define "prostitute." And by all appearances, used the Nevada state laws as a guideline. oops. If they had read further in the NV statues, they would have found, "It is unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution or solicitation therefor, except in a licensed house of prostitution."

What's all this "indoors" business?
Another example of the importance of choosing the right words when you craft your legislature.

Rhode Island unwittingly wrote the opposite of Nevada's prostitution law.

§ 11-34-8 Loitering for indecent purposes. – (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to stand or wander in or near any public highway or street, or any public or private place, and attempt to engage passersby in conversation, or stop or attempt to stop motor vehicles, for the purpose of prostitution or other indecent act, or to patronize, induce, or otherwise secure a person to commit any indecent act. Any person found guilty under this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six (6) months, or by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.

So I can put an ad in the paper?
guess so.

DrawingIn is not taking a position (heh.heh-heh) on prostitution. It is taking a position on bad writing. You spent so much space defining detain that you forgot who you were detaining. Or maybe whom. I never really know. But I know how to write the law you wanted:
"No money is exchange for sex."
Then you can spend our taxes defining "money" and "sex" while the rest of us catch a plane for Vegas.

Make fun of Nevada all you want (and I do plenty without ever having been there) but they also have this law.

NRS 201.232 Breast feeding: Legislative intent; authorized in any public or private location where mother is authorized to be.
1. The Legislature finds and declares that:
(a) The medical profession in the United States recommends that children from birth to the age of 1 year should be breast fed, unless under particular circumstances it is medically inadvisable.
(b) Despite the recommendation of the medical profession, statistics reveal a declining percentage of mothers who are choosing to breast feed their babies.
(c) Many new mothers are now choosing to use formula rather than to breast feed even before they leave the hospital, and only a small percentage of all mothers are still breast feeding when their babies are 6 months old.
(d) In addition to the benefit of improving bonding between mothers and their babies, breast feeding offers better nutrition, digestion and immunity for babies than does formula feeding, and it may increase the intelligence quotient of a child. Babies who are breast fed have lower rates of death, meningitis, childhood leukemia and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, diarrheal diseases, otitis media, allergies, obesity and developmental delays.
(e) Breast feeding also provides significant benefits to the health of the mother, including protection against breast cancer and other cancers, osteoporosis and infections of the urinary tract. The incidence of breast cancer in the United States might be reduced by 25 percent if every woman breast fed all her children until they reached the age of 2 years.
(f) The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund have established as one of their major goals for the decade the encouragement of breast feeding.
(g) The social constraints of modern society weigh against the choice of breast feeding and lead new mothers with demanding time schedules to opt for formula feeding to avoid embarrassment, social ostracism or criminal prosecution.
(h) Any genuine promotion of family values should encourage public acceptance of this most basic act of nurture between a mother and her baby, and no mother should be made to feel incriminated or socially ostracized for breast feeding her child.
2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.

Not sure if any of your Puritan states can say the same.

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