Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has asked a New York judge to dismiss numerous prostitution-related cases, stating that he will no longer prosecute certain offences related to sex work.
According to The New York Times, Vance Jr. referred to some 914 open cases "involving prostitution and unlicensed massage," as well as 5,080 cases "in which the charge was loitering for the purposes of prostitution," with many of these cases dating back to 1970s and 1980s.
While state court Judge Charlotte Davidson dismissed the cases in question, Vance argued that the accused were "unfairly targeted" for prosecution, saying that "by vacating warrants, dismissing cases and erasing convictions for these charges, we are completing a paradigm shift in our approach."
"Over the last decade we’ve learned from those with lived experience, and from our own experience on the ground: Criminally prosecuting prostitution does not make us safer, and too often, achieves the opposite result by further marginalising vulnerable New Yorkers," the district attorney said in a statement, as quoted by the newspaper.
The district attorney also branded the aforementioned cases as "both a relic of a different New York, and a very real burden for the person who carries the conviction or bench warrant."
As the newspaper points out, however, the district attorney’s office will continue to prosecute crimes such as patronising sex workers and sex trafficking, that are related to prostitution.