State Gets Tough On Pimps and Johns Who Exploit Juvenile Prostitutes

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee April 7, 2010

Washington state is getting tough on the men who exploit juvenile prostitutes. Legislation passed last week increases penalties for johns caught soliciting sex from minors.

From the

The legislation does away with the "I thought she was 18" defense; not knowing the age of the girl or boy won't void the charge.

The penalty for "buying time" with a child has also been kicked up. A crime that previously punished with a $550 fine and, at most, a jail sentence will soon carry a minimum 21 month prison term and a $5,000 fine. John also gets to lose his car, due to new impoundment rules allowing police to seize a vehicle used in prostitution.

The minimum sentence under the new regime for promoting sexual abuse of a minor is nearly eight years, more than four times the current penalty.

Other sections of the legislation require that child prostitutes not be criminally charged on their first arrest, and enable authorities to hold the child as a juvenile in need of services.

Of course, this doesn't completely address the fact that a great deal of law enforcement resources are still being devoted to busting juvenile prostitutes—rather than their pimps and johns—but it's a start.

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