The Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney has unveiled a new program aimed at assisting minors arrested for prostitution and prostitution related offenses. As reported in the Los Angeles Daily News:
“The new program will provide a year of crisis intervention, sexual assault and mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, education and other social services for girls who agree to participate. Lacey’s office will work with the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a number of nonprofits.
At the end of that year, the youths who have completed the program will have the arrest that led to their participation cleared from their criminal record.”
To begin, the program will be offered at the Sylmar and Compton juvenile courts, which see the highest incidents of child prostitution cases.
This is a positive step so as to not criminalize minors who, themselves, are often struggling with situations that lead to prostitution in the first place. Although there is a call, and good common sense, for the legalization and regulation of adult prostitution, even the staunchest prostitution legalization advocates agree that minors working as prostitution is a serious problem.
This program, appropriately called “First Step,” is a laudable effort on the part of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office to allow minors to clear the records in a short amount of time.
One can only hope that the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, who prosecutes adult prostitution misdemeanor crimes for the City of Los Angeles, takes a cue from the District Attorney’s Office and expands their prostitution diversion program for adults. As of now, the only formal diversion program is in place at the East Los Angeles courthouse and the Long Beach Courthouse (for San Pedro and Wilmington cases, not City of Long Beach cases). The program allows first time defendants accused of prostitution and prostitution related misdemeanors to attend a one day diversion class in exchange for a dismissal. For reasons which no one can sufficiently address, the diversion program is not offered at the Airport, Van Nuys or San Fernando courthouses, even though the prostitution cases there are also handled by the same City Attorney’s Office.
In any event, the DA’s new program for juveniles is a positive “First Step,” let’s hope that the City Attorney follows suit for adults.
If you or a loved one is accused of a prostitution related offense, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423, or complete our confidential contact form to schedule a free consultation.