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Calif. lawmakers approve prostitution, drug injection sites bill

Randy Mancini 10 Jul 6
Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, left, calls on lawmakers to approve a measure carried by Assemblyman Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, right, to allow Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, to set up places where opioid users could legally inject drugs in supervised settings, during the Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday, June 30, 2022. The Assembly approved the measure and sent it to back to the Senate for final consideration. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, left, calls on lawmakers to approve a measure carried by Assemblyman Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, right, to allow Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, to set up places where opioid users could legally inject drugs in supervised settings, during the Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday, June 30, 2022. The Assembly approved the measure and sent it to back to the Senate for final consideration. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed off on a bill which could benefit human trafficking and prostitution in the state. Last week, the Democrat approved SB 357, which reverses loitering laws that law enforcement used to combat both.

Some critics of the bill, which was authored by Democrat state Sen. Scott Weiner, contend it will hurt areas that already have poverty and a lot of crime. Additionally, sex trafficking victims argued the bill is hurting victims instead of providing help to survivors, while also increasing demand.

“This is specifically talking about street walking and loitering for prostitution is public,” explained Jonathan Keller, President of the California Family Council. “This is going to effect poor communities, it’s going to effect black and brown communities more, but it’s going to actually harm them and make those places much less safe and much more hostile for families, for woman and girls.”

It also received push back from California Senate Republican Scott Wilk who said the government should be doing everything it can to combat the crisis and not enable perpetrators. However, Newsom has claimed the legislation does not legalize prostitution and stressed it must be implemented “cautiously.”

The measure will also allow those who were previously convicted or are serving sentences to ask a court to dismiss and seal the record of the conviction. California is not only taking legislative action on prostitution, but also drug use. Last week, the California Assembly passed a bill to authorize drug injection sites in several cities.

The assembly approved bill SB 57 last week, which allows cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, to set up sites where opioid users could legally inject drugs in supervised settings. State Sen. Weiner, who authored the legislation, claimed safe consumption sites are a proven strategy to save lives and get people into treatment.

The push to create injection sites comes amid a national opioid crisis and spike in overdose deaths. However, the legislation received push-back from Republicans who argue enabling illegal and destructive drug use will never work. The bill still needs to be passed by the state Senate before heading to Governor Newsom’s desk.

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