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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Atlanta to consider 'banishing' prostitutes and johns

Yes, "banishing."

Under legislation an Atlanta City Council committee is expected to consider today, prostitutes who are convicted of soliciting sex in certain parts of town could face stiff jail time, fines, and being prohibited from visiting certain parts of Atlanta - or perhaps even being banished from the city limits. The same would apply to the men and women who might purchase their services.

The Atlanta Police Department is behind the proposal, which is part of Mayor Kasim Reed's plan to improve the quality of life in downtown.

According to WAGA's Morse Diggs, downtown residents and business owners are frustrated by the frequent sight of used condoms, lubricants, and, occasionally, bodily fluids. Diggs reports that the practice has become so common in the area that sex workers use cell phones to warn each other about patrolling police. (Regular CL readers might recognize downtown pharmacy owner Richard Miller, who was quoted in the 2011 cover story about south downtown, in the clip.)

Under the proposal, sex workers and "johns" who are convicted of prostitution or solicitation would face a minimum of 15 days in jail and 165 days on probation, along with a $250 fine. During the probationary period, the men and women would be "banished" from the area. A second conviction would result in a minimum of 60 days in jail and 120 days on probation. A judge would have the authority to decide if the person should be banished from the city limits during the probation period.

We've asked the police department for clarification on the legislation and will update when we hear word. If you'd like to watch the City Council committee meeting, tune in online around 3 p.m.

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