The Manhattan district attorney using a sex trafficking charge, added to New York State law five years ago, that is helping to redefine how law enforcement agencies approach organized prostitution, reports the New York Times. In a stark departure from decades of such prosecutions, the women who were working as prostitutes are not facing criminal charges but are instead being treated as their pimps' victims, and offered services to help them build new lives.
Under the old charges, pimps typically faced up to 15 years in prison for promoting prostitution. The newer sex trafficking charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years. Also under the new law, the customers who pay adult prostitutes for sex face up to one year in jail, up from 90 days.m, On Monday, 14 men, including a physician, an owner of an online ticket sales company and a concierge for a film-production company, were arraigned on charges of patronizing a prostitute. Most were offered a chance to plead guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation; two accepted the plea offer. District Attorney Cyrus Vance said his office had embraced the new approach, long advocated by those who see brutal oppression of women as the defining component of the commercial sex trade.