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Rhode Island Outlaws Indoor Prostitution, Closing Legal Loophole
Governor Carcieri (middle), signs bill (H 5044/S 0596) outlawing indoor prostitution in Rhode Island. Left to Right: Senator Paul V. Jabour, Governor Carcieri, Representative Joanne M. Giannini, and Representative Roberto DaSilva. Source: "New R.I. Law Banning Indoor Prostitution Leads Some Spas to Close," Providence Journal, Nov. 4, 2009
"Governor Donald L. Carcieri today joined Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, State Police Colonel Brendan Doherty, Representative Joanne Giannini, and Senator Paul V. Jabour at a bill signing ceremony to sign into law H 5044/S 0596, which ends legalized indoor prostitution in Rhode Island.
'Today we are signing an important piece of legislation that finally closes the loophole and makes prostitution illegal, no matter where it occurs,' said Governor Donald L. Carcieri...
H 5044/S 0596 defines commercial sexual activity and prohibits it at any location, creates punishments for individuals who attempt to procure the services of a prostitute, and expands the definition of pandering to include individuals that permit prostitution on their property and benefit from such criminal activity.
'For far too long, Rhode Island’s indoor-prostitution loophole has put our state in the national limelight for all the wrong reasons. There should never have been a differentiation between indoor and outdoor prostitution; both acts should always have been considered criminal,' said Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch. 'With today’s enactment of a bill that could not possibly have been vetted any more closely, however, Rhode Island has taken a strong and purposeful step toward improving our quality of life and cleaning up our image. I would like to thank the General Assembly for including the Attorney General’s Office in this important public-policy discussion and I would like to thank Governor Carcieri for signing this essential bill into law.'"
"Police could start targeting some of the more than 30 suspected brothels operating across Rhode Island after Gov. Don Carcieri signed legislation Tuesday banning indoor prostitution in the only state where it was legal besides parts of Nevada.
The new law, which took effect immediately, makes prostitution a misdemeanor crime regardless of where it occurs. Prostitutes will face up to six months in prison for a first offense, while customers and prostitutes convicted of a subsequent offense could be punished by a maximum one-year sentence.
State officials hope the new law will help drive the brothels out of business, either because they voluntarily shut down or are targeted by police...
State lawmakers inadvertently opened the loophole in 1980 when they passed legislation trying to crack down on prostitutes and their customers creating havoc in the West End of Providence. They adopted a law targeting those who sold sex in public, but it was silent on indoor prostitution. Judges would later rule the change had the effect of legalizing paid sex in private."
Associated Press (AP), "Rhode Island Moves to Ban Indoor Prostitution," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 3, 2009