February 12, 2013
ATLANTA -- A proposed prostitution ban met with opposition at an Atlanta City Council work session Monday. The meeting was designed to invite input on a proposed ordinance that would ban prostitutes and their customers from certain parts of the city after multiple arrests.
The meeting lasted for several hours. Community leaders, church pastors and advocates against sex trafficking said the ban was harshly targeting victims of the sex trade. They said they'd like to see more budget dollars devoted to outreach and second chance programs.
The ordinance was pushed by people who told the city they were tired of living with streets populated by prostitutes and their customers.
"You can't arrest these people because they just keep coming back," said midtown resident Peggy Denby. "So this is our best option."
But Chad Brock of the ACLU said they might consider challenging the ordinance if it becomes law. He said the state Supreme Court has said in the past that banishments are ok if they are reasonable or aimed at rehabilitation. Brock said this ordinance as currently written would not meet those standards.
"Instead of pairing you up with the social services you need, they're telling you to go away," Brock said. "We don't believe that's going to help any sex worker rehabilitating themselves."
The ordinance will head to a committee Tuesday. After that it could come up for a vote at next Monday's City Council meeting.