What is the Difference between the Decriminalization and Legalization of Prostitution?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Donna M. Hughes, PhD, Professor and Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair of the Women's Studies Program at the University of Rhode Island, wrote in the Oct. 20, 2004 National Review article "Women's Wrongs" that:

"Legalization would mean the regulation of prostitution with laws regarding where, when, and how prostitution could take place. Decriminalization eliminates all laws and prohibits the state and law-enforcement officials from intervening in any prostitution-related activities or transactions, unless other laws apply."

Oct. 20, 2004 - Donna M. Hughes, PhD 

Prostitutes' Education Network, in the article "Prostitution Law Reform: Defining Terms" posted on its website (accessed Feb. 12, 2007), stated:

"There is no official definition of legalized or decriminalized prostitution. Those who are not familiar with the contemporary discussion about prostitution law reform usually use the term 'legalization' to mean any alternative to absolute criminalization, ranging from licensing of brothels to the lack of any laws about prostitution. Most references to law reform in the media and in other contemporary contexts use the term 'legalization' to refer to any system that allows some prostitution. These common definitions of legalization are extremely broad. Conflicting interpretations of this term often cause confusion in a discussion of reform…

[T]he term legalization usually refers to a system of criminal regulation and government control of prostitutes…

[T]he term decriminalization… mean the removal of laws against prostitution."

Feb. 12, 2007 - Prostitutes' Education Network 

Kimberly Klinger, writer, in the Jan.-Feb. 2003 The Humanist article "Prostitution, Humanism, and a Woman's Choice," wrote:

"Decriminalization essentially means the removal of laws against this and other forms of sex work…

By contrast the term legalization usually refers to a system of governmental regulation of prostitutes wherein prostitutes are licensed and required to work in specific ways…. This is the practice in Nevada, the only state in the United States where brothels are legal. Although legalization can also imply a decriminalized, autonomous system of prostitution, the reality is that in most 'legalized' systems the police control prostitution with criminal codes. Laws regulate prostitutes' businesses… prescribing health checks and registration of health status."

Jan.-Feb. 2003 - Kimberly Klinger