Friday, April 15, 2011

Prostitution-Free Zones in Chicago?

28th Ward Alderman-elect Jason Ervin is proposing legislation that would create "Prostitution-Free Zones" in Chicago, making it a criminal offense for convicted prostitutes to occupy public sidewalks and parks. Ervin's website says that "the proposal aims to tackle the safety concerns for children and residents and the unsightly attraction caused by prostitution and prostitution-related loitering in areas around the city." This is an absurd and discriminatory proposal, modeled on such gems as the city's gang-loitering ordinance (which effectively makes it illegal for young men of color to occupy public places) and sex-offender free zones (that result in encampments of homeless former sex-offenders under bridges when there's nowhere left to live). If you are a Chicago resident, please take a minute to write to your alderman using the letter below or one of your own. 

Use this letter if you are a resident of another ward :


April 15th, 2011
Re: Prostitution-Free Zones

Dear Alderman FILL IN THE BLANK,
      As a resident of your ward, I am deeply disappointed with the city council proposal to ban convicted prostitutes from public areas of our city. Creating "prostitution-free zones" is a violation of the human rights of targeted individuals, and a wrong-headed approach to the problems associated with prostitution.
      Laws that calls for selective enforcement, like Chicago's gang-loitering ordinance, are often discriminatory in their enforcement. Young people of color are unjustly targeted. African-American women are already disproportionately prosecuted for prostitution in our city, and women perceivedto be prostitutes would be subject to increased police harassment under this legislation. The streets and parks of Chicago belong to all its citizens, and become safer when we work together for community improvement.
      The ability to obtain other forms of work and the chance to receive student loans are limited for convicted prostitutes. An alderman concerned about the prevalence of prostitution in his ward should work to create job and educational opportunities for former prostitutes, not limit their presence in public space. Prostitutes are members of our community, and you should address their safety and opportunities for growth, not their "unsightliness."
      It is easier to target convicted prostitutes than it is to address the problem of violence and the shortage of viable employment in our city. It is my hope that you will not use prostitutes as scapegoats in "tough on crime" measures as alderman. Thank you for reconsidering your approach to this issue.

                             YOUR NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION  HERE


Use this letter if you are a resident of the 28th ward:

April 15th, 2011
Re: Prostitution-Free Zones

Dear Alderman-Elect Jason Ervin,
      As a resident of your ward, I am deeply disappointed with your proposal to ban convicted prostitutes from public areas of our city. Creating "prostitution-free zones" is a violation of the human rights of targeted individuals, and a wrong-headed approach to the problems associated with prostitution.
      Laws that calls for selective enforcement, like Chicago's gang-loitering ordinance, are often discriminatory in their enforcement. Young people of color are unjustly targeted. African-American women are already disproportionately prosecuted for prostitution in our city, and women perceivedto be prostitutes would be subject to increased police harassment under this legislation. The streets and parks of Chicago belong to all its citizens, and become safer when we work together for community improvement.
      The ability to obtain other forms of work and the chance to receive student loans are limited for convicted prostitutes. An alderman concerned about the prevalence of prostitution in his ward should work to create job and educational opportunities for former prostitutes, not limit their presence in public space. Prostitutes are members of our community, and you should address their safety and opportunities for growth, not their "unsightliness."
      It is easier to target convicted prostitutes than it is to address the problem of violence and the lack of viable employment in our ward. It is my hope that you will discontinue your use of prostitutes as scapegoats in future "tough on crime" measures as alderman. Thank you for reconsidering your approach to this issue.

                                 YOUR NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION HERE




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