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.


  1. Are you kidding?? Pimps, by forcing young girls to perform sexual acts on paying customers pretty much means that, when convicted, they are guilty of committing a SEX OFFENSE. Therefore they absolutely should be required to register as sex offenders.

  2. I get it Edie. I get it. I couldn't agree with you more. Here in good old Rhode Island, a 13 year old boy that gets to second base with his 13 year old girlfriend, . . . feels her up in the movie theater, . . . must register as a sex offender for ten years because he is guilty of 2nd degree child molestation! Yep. Even though juvenile cases are confidential, that confidentiality doesn't apply to sex offender registration. I mean, why would it? Sex offenders are the worst of the worst, right? Here's the kicker. . . the 13 year old girl that got felt up by her 13 year old boyfriend in the movie theater. . . she has to register too. Both of these kiddo's are under 14, so this consensual encounter that is truly a part of growing up has rendered both of these kids sex offenders. Yes indeed.

  3. IS part of the plan to rehabilitate people? That seems optimistic. I recently heard (yes, probably on the TV) that the law is not about right and wrong, it's about conflict resolution.

    Also, please consider:

  4. i'm sort of ambivalent when it comes to pimps having to register--i'm far more concernd about the 19 year old kid having sex w/a 16 year old who looks 28 having to register...but i get your point. i could NOT agree w/you more on the us vs them crap these days! i have quite enjoyed your facebook posts meant to elicit discourse....i get so tired of it! and everyone acts so self righteous when they point the finger at the hate mongering 'other' people...really? cuz y'all seem pretty damn hate mongerish to me!!

  5. I'm I right in guessing that Anon@2:12 pm is my girl, Aisha? Sounds like Aisha. and yes, I completely agree: those cases are the most appalling.

    @anon9:58pm: a pimp and a predatory child sex offender are two very different annimals. What about the guy who gives the 16 year old girl heroin and gets her hooked - should he have to register as a sex offender? It just doesnt make sense to me.

  6. anon at 2:12 is SA:o)

  7. I find the whole sex offender registry interesting from the stand point that there are no registries for any other types of crimes. The convicted murder or white collar criminal who is going to bilk the nextdoor neighbor out of all her money can move in and no one knows it. So it begs the question: is the sex offender registry intended to protect the public or further penalize the criminal? If you answer protect the public how can you not demand that there be registries for every other type of crime?