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Phoenix raises penalties for soliciting prostitutes in effort to fight trafficking

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

PHOENIX — A person convicted of soliciting a prostitute in Phoenix now faces higher fines.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, the Phoenix City Council voted to raise fines and jail time for anyone convicted of soliciting a prostitute.

The second conviction means a fine of $2,000 and at least 30 days of jail time. The third conviction means a $2,250 fine and 60 days in jail. Each conviction after that will cost $2,500 in fines and six months in jail.

The court may also impose jail costs for anyone booked into jail or serving a jail sentence. Right now, the court has the discretion to impose up to $2,500 for each conviction.

Phoenix Councilman Jim Waring said this will help a lot when it comes to combating human trafficking.

“People think prostitutes and, sadly, they think Hollywood — pretty women,” said Waring, who is chairman of the Phoenix Human Trafficking Task Force. “That’s not the reality. The reality is abused kids. The average age to start, statistics say, is age 14.

“At 14, you’re not picking prostitution as a job.”

The councilman said some may wonder why the council could not impose even higher penalties. The reason, he said, is because solicitation is a misdemeanor. Therefore, statutes and codes must adhere to certain legal standards. However, in Waring’s opinion, higher fines will help.

Waring said soliciting prostitutes “is just not acceptable.”

Convicted offenders’ fines will go to Starfish Place, a long-term housing project in Phoenix for human-trafficking victims.

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