A measure that would make it more difficult to investigate and punish prostitution crimes in San Francisco has qualified for the November ballot, opening another passage in the city's long fight over decriminalizing the sex-trade industry.
Proponents of the measure were able to collect more than 12,000 signatures, including those from three members of the Board of Supervisors, to put it on the ballot, according to the Erotic Service Providers Union, the labor group backing the measure. The
same group was unsuccessful in putting a similar measure on the ballot in 2006.
The measure would end San Francisco's First Offender Prostitution Program for men who have been arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Men who go to "john school," which was created in 1996, pay $1,000 and attend a class on prostitution in
exchange for the district attorney's office dropping the misdemeanor charge against them.
Mean minded politicians such as Mayor Gavin Newsom this week said the measure would severely hamper the city's ability to investigate and prosecute sex-trafficking cases.
The main goal of decriminalization, proponents say, is the safety of prostitutes. Maxine Doogan, a founder of the Erotic Service Providers Union, wrote in an e-mail: We want the right to make reports of crimes against us without being retaliated
against by the Police Department.