WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI – Effective immediately, no charges will be authorized against those engaged in consensual sex work in Washtenaw County.
Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit announced Thursday, Jan. 14, his office would no longer seek prosecution of individuals engaged in consensual sex work, focusing instead on cases involving human trafficking, sexual assault and the sexual exploitation of children.
“The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office is well aware that sex work carries an increased risk for violence, human trafficking, and coercion. Data and experience, however, have shown that criminalizing sex work does little to alleviate those harms,” Savit wrote in the new policy.
Savit, who was newly elected in 2020, has issued a variety of new policy changes in the prosecutor’s office including the ending of cash bail and the rescinding of zero-tolerance policies.
Q&A: How Eli Savit plans to reform criminal justice in Washtenaw County
The newest policy, citing various reasons for the decision, aims to ease tensions and make it easier for consensual sex workers to report crimes committed against them and aid them in leaving the life.
Research demonstrates that the criminalization of sex work enhances sex workers vulnerabilities to violence and exploitation. Because sex work is regarded as criminal activity, sex workers are easy targets for abuse and exploitation, the policy states.
“Some people who engage in sex work would prefer to do so for only a limited time. But criminalization—and the cascading employment-related consequences of a criminal record—can trap people in the sex work industry,” Savit wrote. “Being convicted of sex work-related offenses gives sex workers a criminal record, which can make it hard to find non-sex work employment.”
Savit emphasized the policy is only directed toward cases where the exchange of money for sex is the sole basis of the charge.
Cases involving forced or coerced sex work, sexual assault and sex work involving minors will still be vigorously pursued criminally.
To read the new policy in its entirety, click here.
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