Monday, February 28, 2011

Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy

The older I get, the more frustrated I become by what I call the American Ideology of extremism. 

You’re either with us or against us. 

If I listened to what my fellow citizens advised, I would be forced to choose between being an anti-car, anti-business, dreadlock-rocking, vegan-loving, breastfeeding-my-child- until-she’s-six, hate-all-Republicans liberal, or a Palin/Beck-supporting, anti-choice, anti-gay-marriage, anti-union, pro-church-and-state conservative.


I’m so tired of it. And yes, my frustration has prompted deliberate facebook posts written solely for the purpose of eliciting angry comments. 

Where are the moderates and why are we so scared?

“Edie, what does this rant have to do with the law?” you ask. Excellent question. “I thought you were a criminal attorney blogging about criminal defense law.” I am, and I’m getting to it. 

Here’s the thing: Nothing exemplifies my point more than the criminal justice system, which is all about black and white. For years, violent offenders got off easy, did little time, got out to commit even more heinous crimes, and generally were not held accountable.

And so the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. Now, if you “catch a case,” particularly a certain type of case, you’re screwed…for life.

 The best example of this is pimping.

Yes, you heard me: P-I-M-P-I-N-G. Under Oregon law, an individual convicted of promoting or compelling prostitution is required to register as a sex offender. 

The elements of promoting prostitution are as follows:  A person commits the crime of promoting prostitution if, with intent to promote prostitution, the person knowingly:
(a) Owns, controls, manages, supervises or otherwise maintains a place of prostitution or a prostitution enterprise; or
(b) Induces or causes a person to engage in prostitution or to remain in a place of prostitution; or
(c) Receives or agrees to receive money or other property, other than as a prostitute being compensated for personally rendered prostitution services, pursuant to an agreement or understanding that the money or other property is derived from a prostitution activity; or
(d) Engages in any conduct that institutes, aids or facilitates an act or enterprise of prostitution.[1]

The elements of compelling prostitution are as follows:  (1) A person commits the crime of compelling prostitution if the person knowingly:
(a) Uses force or intimidation to compel another to engage in prostitution; or
(b) Induces or causes a person under 18 years of age to engage in prostitution; or
(c) Induces or causes the spouse, child or stepchild of the person to engage in prostitution.[2]

Now, don’t get me wrong. These are serious offenses and often very bad criminal acts; particularly cases involving compelling prostitution. I’m not condoning such behavior. I’m not suggesting that when the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that said individuals committed such crimes, they should not be prosecuted.[3]

However, I don’t understand why someone convicted of one of these offenses should be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his or her life. I just don’t see a causal connection.

Pimps are assholes. Pimps are terrible people. Pimps take advantage of the most vulnerable members of society – often underage girls who are fleeing terrible domestic circumstances.

But are pimps sex offenders? 

And the thing is, if part of our plan is to rehabilitate criminals, good luck when it involves an individual required to register for life as a sex offender. They can almost never secure legitimate employment. They can almost never secure legitimate housing. The registration requirement pretty much puts a stop to any attempt to lead productive, legitimate lives. 

Assume that there is at least one person out there convicted of compelling or promoting prostitution who has made a transformation; who has made amends for their past life; who has changed; and who wants to do the right thing and volunteer, work hard, pay taxes, serve the community, raise a family. It will be next to impossible for said person to do so.

I realize that to most, this isn’t a pressing issue. And I realize it’s not a very popular issue. The “pimping lobby” isn’t going to appear at the legislature anytime soon to advocate for an end to sex offender registration. 

And I get registration laws as applied to predatory sex offenders. But I don’t get it when it comes to pimps.

I just don’t.

Do you?

[1] ORS 167.012
[2] ORS 167.017
[3] Assuming, of course, that the defendant’s constitutional rights were not violated by po-po.