Prostitution in Rhode Island

Indoor prostitution criminalised

17th May

Updated: American Mean Mindedness...

Rhode Island nears law to criminalise the buying of sex

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee have approved a bill to criminalize prostitution that occurs indoors, with a full vote on the House floor expected soon.

The bill, which the committee approved in an 8-to-4 vote,  seeks to rewrite a nearly 30-year-old law that outlaws streetwalkers and soliciting for prostitution outdoors, but has no prohibition against prostitution that occurs indoors.

Rhode Island is the only state, except for certain counties in Nevada, that has no prohibition against indoor prostitution.

Supporters of the bill include state and local police, who claim that it’s needed to investigate and prosecute cases where prostitutes may be coerced or forced into prostitution, generally defined as human trafficking.

Opponents of the bill generally fall into two categories: those such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes what it views as an intrusion into peoples’ privacy, and those such as members of Brown University Students Against Human Trafficking, who say that criminalizing indoor prostitution will mean prosecuting prostitutes, who they view as victims.

The amended version of the prostitution bill (H-5044 Sub A) includes exemptions for women who were “forced” into prostitution. Under the bill approved last night, anyone found guilty of prostitution or of procuring the services of a prostitute (both misdemeanors) would face imprisonment of up to six months, and a fine of $250 to $1,000. For a subsequent offense, they could face up to a year in prison and a fine of $500 to $1,000.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr said: I’m very confident we’ll pass it on the floor of the House.

Update: Mean Minded Representatives

17th May 2009. From

Rhode Island House lawmakers have voted 62-8 to criminalize the solicitation of sexual acts behind closed doors. It now heads for a vote in the Senate, where identical legislation is pending.

The push comes in response to years of whinges by police that Rhode Island's law essentially permitted brothels to operate in plain sight.

It's a black eye for Rhode Island, and I believe it's time we close the loophole, said Rep. Joanne Giannini who sponsored the bill ending the distinction between indoor and outdoor prostitution.

If it becomes law, prostitutes could be punished by a prison term of up to six months in prison and a maximum $1,000 fine for a first offense. Subsequent convictions would carry a prison term of up to one year and similar fines.

Those convicted of hiring a prostitute would face the same penalties.


27th June

Update: American Mean Mindedness...

Rhode Island passes law to criminalise the buying of sex

The Rhode Island Senate has passed a bill outlawing indoor prostitution.

Lawmakers approved the measure saying it gives law enforcement the tools necessary to prosecute indoor prostitution because current law only prohibits soliciting sex outside.

The bill, which now goes to the House, would fine first-time offenders $250. Subsequent violations would carry more repessive penalties.

It would also be a misdemeanor for landlords and property owners to allow prostitution on their premises. That offense would carry a fine of up to $1,000.

Similar legislation passed the House in May by a 62-8 vote.


6th August

Update: Profs and Pros...

Academics point out that allowing indoor prostitution is a step towards safety for the girls

A group of 50 professors has signed a letter urging Rhode Island lawmakers not to ban indoor prostitution.

Rhode Island is the only state in the country besides several counties in Nevada where indoor prostitution is legal.

In a letter, George Washington University professor Ronald Weitzer and Nassau Community College professor Elizabeth Wood said prostitutes who work indoors are less likely to be assaulted, raped or robbed. They said treating indoor and outdoor prostitution differently is a step in the right direction.

Rhode Island House and Senate lawmakers have backed sharply different bills that would ban indoor prostitution. They are trying to reach a compromise before a vote expected in September.


29th October

Update: Miserable Rhode Island...

Rhode Island lawmakers approve bill to criminalise indoor prostitution

Rhode Island House lawmakers have approved a bill banning indoor prostitution .

A spokesperson has confirmed that the bill passed by a vote of 58 to 9.

The legislation makes prostitution a misdemeanor crime, with a maximum punishment of one year in prison.

The senate is expected to vote on the bill Thursday.


31st October

Update: Miserable Rhode Island...

Rhode Island lawmakers pass bill to criminalise indoor prostitution

Rhode Island Senate lawmakers have approved the bill to make prostitution a misdemeanor offense regardless of where it occurs. Prostitutes would face a maximum six-month prison sentence for a first offense, while their customers could face up to a year.

The bill now goes to the state Governor for approval into law.

Rhode Island is the only state, besides parts of Nevada, that currently allows indoor prostitution. More than two dozen brothels are now operating across the state.


6th November

Update: Miserable Governor...

Rhode Island criminalisation of indoor prostitution takes immediate effect

Rhode Island Governor, Don Carcieri, has signed legislation making indoor prostitution illegal.

The bills signed Tuesday end Rhode Island's status as the only state that allowed indoor prostitution statewide. The practice is legal in parts of Nevada. The new law took effect immediately.

Carcieri praised the new law as a step forward and said it ended Rhode Island's terrible distinction.

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