Manhattan prosecutors will stop prosecuting prostitution and unlicensed massages, District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced Wednesday. Vance Jr. has asked a judge to dismiss more than 900 open prostitution cases and another 5,000 that involve charges for loitering for the purposes of prostitution, his statement says. Many of these cases have been pending since the late 1970s, when New York wanted to erase its reputation as a crime capital. “Criminally prosecuting prostitution does not make us safer, and too often, achieves the opposite result by further marginalizing vulnerable New Yorkers,” Vance Jr. said. Crimes related to sex trafficking and patronizing sex workers will still be prosecuted, according to The New York Times. Manhattan follows Baltimore and Philadelphia in deciding not to prosecute sex workers.
“The communities hit hardest by the continued criminalization of sex work and human trafficking are overwhelmingly LGBTQ, they are people of color, and they are undocumented immigrants,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray. “Sex work is a means of survival for many in these marginalized groups.”