City council member Tim Burgess is working with City Attorney Pete Holmes and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg's office on legislation which would allow juveniles and adults with prostitution convictions to go to court and have their records "expunged much quicker and more easily than the state currently allows," according to Burgess.[pullquote]"They are victims and not criminals," Burgess says, "so we should assist them as best we can in restoring their records and giving them a boost."[/pullquote]
"They are victims and not criminals," Burgess says, "so we should assist them as best we can in restoring their records and giving them a boost."
The legislation would not provide any assistance to pimps or johns, Burgess says.
Wiping former prostitutes' slates clean—which means convictions would no longer show up during job or rental applications—isn't a new idea. Similar legislation has already been passed in New York and Illinois, but this would be the latest effort in Washington to shift the way law enforcement deals with prostitutes.
Recent efforts by the city and attorneys general across the country to rein in the sex trafficking and sexual exploitation on Backpage.com have largely focused on helping juvenile victims of prostitution. But the legislation Burgess, Holmes, and Satterberg are discussing would also aid adults with prostitution convictions.
"Exploitive prostitution happens no matter what your age is," Burgess says.
Burgess says his group is still working to finalize the legislation and get other officials on board, but said it could be ready by January. He declined to discuss which state legislators he is working with on the issue.