While Senator Barack Obama rejects prostitution and trafficking as an abuse of human rights,  San Francisco voters are being urged to make our city a sanctuary for pimps and traffickers.
What we have to do is to create better, more effective tools for prosecuting those who are engaging in human trafficking and we have to do that within our country. Sadly, there are thousands who are trapped in various forms of enslavement, here in our country - oftentimes young women who are caught up in prostitution. So we've got to give prosecutors the tools to crack down on these human trafficking networks. Internationally, we've got to speak out and we've got to forge alliances with other countries to share intelligence, to roll up the financing networks that are involved in them. It is a debasement of our common humanity, whenever we see something like that taking place.
~ Senator Barack Obama

I exploited my body and gave myself to any man who wanted a piece. It was a vicious lifestyle. What these men don't know -- or maybe what they DO know -- is that prostitutes or streetwalkers or "happy hookers" are women with a deep sense of pain. Most have been abused in unimaginable ways.
~ Brenda Myers-Powell

Proposition K conceals the inhumane nature of prostitution and cripples the efforts of law enforcement, human rights groups and social service agencies to assist those who seek escape from sex-traffickers.
~ Kamala Harris, SF District Attorney

..there is nothing broad-minded about looking the other way when 14-year-old girls and boys sell themselves on the street and massage parlors are staffed by women who are being held against their will. These are not consenting adults.
~ Debra Saunders
Statement of Russ Giuntini, Chief Assistant District Attorney, SF | Print |  E-mail

Statement of Russ Giuntini, Chief Assistant District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco

For the past four and a half years, I have served as the Chief Assistant District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco.  I also served as a prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office for 25 years.  I have prosecuted hundreds of cases in state and federal court, including prostitution and other related sex-crimes.

I have reviewed the text of Proposition K, a municipal initiative scheduled for the November 4, 2008 San Francisco ballot, as well as the arguments submitted against the measure for inclusion in the voter information pamphlet.

If enacted by voters, Proposition K will decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco – which will have severely adverse consequences on San Francisco’s ability to investigate and prosecute related criminal offenses. 

 In my opinion, Proposition K will effectively prohibit the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes in San Francisco by the Office of the District Attorney.  Proposition K decriminalizes prostitution and severely limits the enforcement of the state’s prostitution laws in San Francisco.  Individuals arrested for prostitution commonly are the exclusive source of information used to discover, investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes under the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act, enacted in 2005.  Proposition K completely forecloses the City’s main source of information in prosecuting these crimes, as testimony from young women trapped in brothels and massage parlors is the primary source of evidence relied on by the San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney’s office in its investigations.  The investigation of massage parlors resulting from prostitution offenses directly leads to prosecution of human trafficking crimes.  By decriminalizing prostitution, the City’s law enforcement officials will be unable to discover illegal human trafficking activity in San Francisco.  In other words, there is a direct link between prostitution arrests and the prosecution of human trafficking crimes.

Similarly, the investigation and enforcement of prostitution offenses is critical to the enforcement of pimping and pandering crimes.  Again, young women arrested for prostitution offenses provide the primary source of information used to investigate and prosecute individual pimps.  An individual cannot be prosecuted for pimping and pandering unless the underlying offense – prostitution – is established.  By decriminalizing prostitution in San Francisco, Proposition K decriminalizes pimping and pandering and the prosecution of pimps.

The vast majority of prostitutes work for, and are controlled and exploited by, traffickers and pimps. Under Proposition K, law enforcement would be prevented from using public funds to go after traffickers and pimps because police would be prevented from investigating and rescuing trafficked victims. This effectively means that sexual exploitation of girls and women would go virtually unchecked with the hands of law enforcement tied. Law enforcement cannot investigate traffickers, pimps, johns and child molesters without first rescuing and interviewing their victims.  Passing Measure K would be analogous to barring the arrests and prosecution of illegal drug dealers by preventing law enforcement from investigating illegal drug purchasers or people with drug addiction problems.

By barring the Police Department and District Attorney’s Office from using public resources to investigate prostitution, Proposition K will prevent undercover operations aimed at arresting johns, pimps, and human traffickers. These investigations have been highly successful in recovering juvenile female runaways who have been targeted and abused by pimps and put out on the street to work as prostitutes. These investigations have succeeded in identifying traffickers, pimps, and child molesters.

Barring the Police Department and District Attorney’s Office from securing federal grants to combat human trafficking eliminates important source of support for these investigations. For example, federal funds have been used to educate firefighters, paramedics, building inspectors, and health officials on the signs and symptoms of human trafficking. These trainings have significantly improved our capacity to uncover and shut down illegal massage parlors and brothels.       

If enacted by voters, Proposition K will decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco – which will have severely adverse consequences on San Francisco’s ability to investigate and prosecute related criminal offenses.