Friday, March 14, 2008

Discrimination in the Prostitution Industry

Interesting comment someone had posted on the Blogging Head's The Spitzer Edition;

Around 38 minutes, they ask about skill levels and different "tournaments" for prostitutes. My sense from observing and fighting prostitution while working in the hotel industry is that they are in different tournaments. The high end prostitutes are professional. Lots of low end prostitutes are there because they lack even the most basic level of human capital. They don't even have the work ethic, reliability, personal skills, etc. to really have a professional job. (I've seen prostitutes resumes). This bears on the feasibility of legalization of prostitution, because I seriously doubt that some of these women for whom black market prostitution is the best option would be able to participate well in white market prostitution.

See also the following comment;
Please follow the Justice Dept. narrative to the bitter end. It is implausible that such relatively minor transactions would trigger an investigation of this magnitude. I have trouble buying the "we got very lucky" cover story from the Bush Justice Dept.

The IRS apparently receives millions of "suspicious transaction" reports from banks and investigates only a very small fraction of such reports. This is especially true in the post-Patriot Act era when banks are under pressure to err on the side of excessive reporting.

Is this selective and political prosecution? Let's find out. That's more important than psychoanalyzing Spitzer.

This Defense Won’t Rest;
Similarly, leaking to the press the details of an investigation has also become commonplace in prosecutions in recent years. An article in this newspaper on Wednesday included information from federal officials who insisted on anonymity because “it can be a crime to disclose the contents of a suspicious activity report.” That federal officials would reveal such information is simply inexcusable. Unfortunately, the Justice Department has been loath to investigate such leaks, and Mr. Spitzer’s supporters are right to criticize them.

Less persuasive, however, is the conspiracy theory that the Justice Department went after Mr. Spitzer to get rid of a high-profile Democrat. It is entirely plausible that, as reported, Mr. Spitzer’s banks reported some suspicious transactions in his accounts to the Treasury Department’s financial crimes network. That is a bank’s obligation under federal law. And the Treasury Department, F.B.I., Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department all seem to have followed proper procedure. Any conspiracy theory seems far-fetched at best.

As enticing as an attack strategy will seem to Mr. Spitzer and his supporters, and however unfair the disclosures to the press have been, no offensive strategy will work in these circumstances. The governor’s alleged conduct was too brazen. In paying to have sex, and to transport a prostitute to Washington to engage in sex, and in moving money to facilitate this illegal conduct in amounts that seemed structured to avoid reporting requirements, Mr. Spitzer apparently engaged in conduct that could support several lines of prosecution.

One involves the Mann Act of 1910, which prohibits transporting people across state lines to engage in prostitution, although I agree with those who feel that Mann-related charges would be inappropriate, as such cases are typically brought against brothel owners, not customers.

But other approaches — illegal structuring of financial transactions, and basic laws against engaging in sex for money — are legitimate prosecutorial avenues. Seen in this light, any complaints about unfairness in the process ring hollow.

A second, more viable, approach for Mr. Spitzer is to play defense and negotiate with federal law enforcement. Speculation is widespread that his resignation might have been in exchange for the government giving up prosecution or for a guilty plea to a minor charge. I have little doubt that such discussions have occurred, but I believe the United States attorney’s statement that no agreement has been reached.

Legalization of prostitution

More on Prostitution and the Law

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