The debate over whether or not prostitution should be legalized in this country is an on-going issue that is yet to be solved. The act of “offering one's self for hire to engage in sexual relations,” (thefreedictionary.com) is predominantly viewed as deviant, and is deemed illegal in most parts of this country. To be exact, prostitution is outlawed in all states except Nevada, where this “profession” is closely regulated at licensed brothels. According to Standley White of About.com, prostitutes in these brothels are tested monthly for HIV and syphilis, and weekly for other STDs (about.com). In addition, condom use is required, and street walking remains illegal, just like other parts of the country (White, about.com). Nevertheless, other parts of the country aren’t as accepting of this concept of sexual relations for monetary gain, for reasons stemming from a moral standpoint. Despite these reasons however, the success of prostitution in parts of Nevada serves as a great example of the fact that the legalization of prostitution could potentially be of greater benefit for this nation. With my current knowledge on the subject prior to research, I expect to make findings that suggest that the legalization of prostitution would in fact benefit this nation. The economic sector and the criminal justice sector are a few areas that could specifically benefit a lot from the legalization of prostitution; this paper will explain how the potential benefits of these sectors serve as a good enough reason as to why prostitution should be legalized.
Legalized Prostitution and the Economy
The struggle of the US economy is no unfamiliar news to residents or even informed foreign followers of this nation. During such a period of hardship, a spark to an economic boom is desperately being searched for, and the legalization of prostitution could possibly provide such a boost. The biggest impact that the legalization of prostitution can have on the economic sector is through the generation of revenue in the form of income taxes. As mentioned in the introduction, the success of Nevada’s prostitution regulation serves as evidence of the potential success that can be achieved by the nation as a whole; this success is heavily seen in the economic gains that have been generated by the profession. Findings by Chris Ayres of The Times indicate that based on the current rates of income of an employee at a Nevada brothel, the ability to generate tax revenue is bound to contribute at least $20,000 in federal income taxes per year per person (Ayres, 2003). Using the current estimate of over one million women prostituted in this nation, this industry is bound to raise at least $20 billion per year (Sonntag, 2009). It is needless to say that money generated from this industry can go a long way towards helping the nation, as it can be used to build homeless shelters, further education, fix highways, etc.
Legalized prostitution can also help address the problem of unemployment in this nation, ultimately helping the economy. As we all know, a direct impact of the economic struggles that this nation is enduring is the unemployment status being suffered by many. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), five million Americans are currently unemployed long-term. This results in the inability for many to provide a comfortable living for themselves, as well as their families. The Prostitutes’ Education Network (2008) states that over one million Americans, which is about 1% of the population, have worked as prostitutes at one point or another in their lifetime. This goes to show that people are willing to part-take in this industry if necessary. In the midst of this current economic crisis, these one million people can potentially decrease the unemployment rate, as those who shy away from the industry simply because it is deemed illegal will be more accepting of the profession. In addition, those who are secretly involved would undoubtedly embrace the profession and perhaps encourage more individuals to join in as well. Lastly, law abiding citizens who are in desperate need of income will be provided with an opportunity to provide a living for their families. All these components can contribute to a decrease in the current unemployment rates, and ultimately benefit the economy.
Legalization of Prostitution and the Criminal Justice System
Another sector that is bound to benefit from the legalization of prostitution is the Criminal Justice System. The illegality of the concept of prostitution places the need for law enforcement to make a concerted effort to reduce the frequency or even potentially eliminate the occurrence of the act. According to findings by Howard N. Snyder of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2012), the state of California alone had a total number of 11,334 people arrested for prostitution in the year 2010. Considering a significant amount of time and effort is put into fighting prostitution and keeping prostitutes from the public streets, legalized prostitution would reduce the amount of street monitoring needed, as most prostitutes would be in brothels. The partial alleviation of these duties would allow for law enforcement officers to focus on more serious crimes and other issues such as community policing, securing national borders, fighting terrorism, etc.
In addition to the freedom to focus on other safety issues, the legalization of prostitution would help the Criminal Justice System to address the problem of overpopulation in correctional facilities, and help the process of prison reform. In the state of Texas for example, more than three hundred and fifty prostitutes occupy bunks in state prisons (Associated Press, 2012). Although this is not a significant amount, all it takes is an additional number of one hundred inmates to create overpopulation in a facility intended to house a thousand. Legalized prostitution would eliminate the need to add on to this growing problem of crowding in facilities. Also, money spent to accommodate, feed, and clothe these petty “criminals” can be attributed to other prisoners’ rehabilitation process, or saved for other criminal justice endeavors.
Lastly, the legalization of prostitution would ensure the protection of the prostitutes involved, eliminating the need for victimization cases related to the job. According to Linda Lowen of about.com (2002), a lot of prostitutes are abused by pimps, or even clients, yet fail to report the incidents to law enforcement due to fear of being arrested for prostituting in the first place. The legalization of prostitution would open the line of communication between prostitutes and law enforcement, ultimately resulting in their safety. Also, legalized prostitution would eliminate the need for the act to take place in discreet isolated environments where the safety of the prostitutes is in jeopardy. In brothels, the act will take place in a highly secured environment where victimization of a prostitute would be unlikely. This ultimately ensures the safety of all parties involved, which benefits the criminal justice sector and the nation as a whole.
The research conducted reinforces my preexisting belief that the legalization of prostitution would be beneficiary to this country. Despite my prior assumption of legalized prostitution being beneficial, I was quite surprised to find out the extent to which it can actually benefit the nation. For example, I was shocked to find out that as much as 20 billion dollars can be generated through income taxes annually. I’m puzzled as to why prostitution hasn’t become a big business industry yet, when it has the potential to generate so much revenue. The finding that surprised me the most was the fact that one million people in this country have been prostitutes at one point or another in their lifetime. I had no idea that prostitution was that common, and that many people were open to it. It made me wonder what the main reasoning for entering the industry was; although I’d assume that monetary gain would be the answer.
In regards to whether or not these potential benefits outweigh the negatives, I think they certainly do. Although opposition state that it is morally wrong, it ruins marriages, and it degrades the human body, I am still in favor of legalizing prostitution because of the reasons listed throughout the paper, and because its illegal status will not prevent the act from occurring. It is inevitable that prostitution will continue to occur; therefore the nation might as well find a way to benefit from it. If an individual is fine with selling his/her body for money, who are we to stop him/her? After all, is it not a right to be able to express yourself however you may please? Wasn’t this nation built on the concept of freedom? Doesn’t this law somehow violate that freedom? It also baffles me that porn is legal yet prostitution isn’t. Aren’t the two practically the same, with the only different component being the presence of a camera? That is highly irrational in my opinion. For these reasons, prostitution should be legalized.
In conclusion, the legalization of prostitution, despite its current disapproval and deviant view, is bound to benefit the nation in many ways. It is likely to provide a much needed boost to our economy through the taxation of prostitutes and brothels, and through the creation of jobs. It is also going to aid our criminal justice system by presenting law enforcement officers with more freedom to focus on more serious matters, by helping to address the problem of overpopulation in correctional facilities, and by ensuring the safety of the individuals involved in prostitution. These reasons go to show the potential benefits of the legalization of prostitution and why it should be implemented. Prostitution has been around this nation for many years, and it doesn’t seem to be ready to make an exit yet; therefore instead of trying to fight it, we should regulate it and try to reap the benefits that the state of Nevada has been able to achieve. As the cliché saying goes, “you never know until try.” The legalization of prostitution is a calculated risk which is bound to however prove to be beneficial; therefore legalize prostitution, for what it’s worth!
Associated Press (2012, August 26). Texas May Reconsider Sending Prostitutes to Prison.Tulsa World [Tulsa]. Retrieved from http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=338&articleid=20120826_338_0_AUSTIN537516.
Ayres, C. (2003, September 19). Cathouses Find Sex is Taxing the Wild West. The Times. Retrieved from http://search.epnet.com/direct.asp?an=7EH2898921096&db=nfh.
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Prostitutes' Education Network (2008). Prostitution in the United States - The Statistics.Prostitutes' Education Network. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from http://www.bayswan.org/stats.html
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Snyder, H. N. (2012, October 31). Arrest in the United States, 1990-2010. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4515
Sonntag, T. P. (2009). Case for Legalizing Prostitution >> Tax Revenue. Case for Legalizing Prostitution. Retrieved October 17, 2012, from http://people.emich.edu/tsonntag/engl444/printtoweb/tax_revenue.