Florida passes bill to create registry of pimps and johns

State legislatures has passed a bill that would create a public database of pimps and johns convicted of soliciting or procuring for prostitution.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will now decide whether to sign the bill creating the ‘Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database,’ which passed both houses of the legislature on May 3. 

The bill would create a public registry including the names, addresses and photos of anyone convicted of ‘soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation and who provides or arranges payment for such violations.’

It comes as part of a package of measures to crack down on prostitution and human trafficking ahead of the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami, as well as WrestleMania 36 to be held in Tampa next year.

Offenders would be removed from the database after five years, as long as they had no further convictions. 

Officials in Florida hope the registry would shame johns and discourage them from seeking out paid sex services, reducing the demand for prostitution and and the prevalence of sex trafficking.

But advocates for sex workers have spoken out strongly against the bill, saying that the loose way it is described by law makes it inevitable that prostitutes themselves will be listed on the registry.

They say that a prostitute who is convicted of providing an apartment or car for a fellow sex worker could easily be included in the registry.

‘A prostitution registry is yet another legislative knee jerk reaction to a community based problem that will cause far more harm to marginalized members of our community,’ said Alex Andrews, co-founder for Sex Worker Outreach Program Behind Bars, in a statement.

‘Surely we have evolved from a culture that punishes a human being with a Scarlet letter that they can’t escape,’ Andrews said.

The advocates say that the bill, which is titled ‘Human Trafficking,’ intentionally confuses sex trafficking of unwilling victims with consensual paid sex acts between adults.

It comes after police in Jupiter, Florida accused Patriots owner Robert Kraft and dozens of other men of soliciting prostitution in a case they initially said involved human trafficking, but in which no human trafficking charges have ever been brought.

The new bill includes several other measures to crack down on prostitution.

It would require strip club owners and operators to keep records of their employees’ driver licenses or documents with photo IDs and age verification, or face misdemeanor charges.

The bill also tightens the requirements to own and operate a massage parlor, in an attempt to assure they are operated by legitimate massage therapists. 

That section of the bill was added after the sting resulting in the charges against Kraft, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

The bill has yet to be formally sent to Governor DeSantis.

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