Protection for sex workers proposed for those who report crimes

Published: May. 22, 2017 at 6:58 PM AKDT
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Prostitution is a misdemeanor crime in Anchorage, a charge Community United for Safety & Protection says could deter someone in the sex trade from reporting serious crimes.

“We hope to incentivize the reporting of these kinds of crime,” said Terra Burns, who says she has close to two decades of experience in the sex trade.

A new ordinance headed for the Anchorage Assembly would change city code to come in line with protections from prosecution already in place under SB 91.

“It allows them the opportunity to do what’s right and report these crimes without any type of repercussions,” said Assembly member Felix Rivera, who submitted the proposal along with Assembly member Fred Dyson.

State legislation included in SB 91 provides protections from prosecution if someone reports a more serious crime and cooperates with investigators. According to Municipal Prosecutor Seneca Theno, the law does not provide the protection under city code.

The proposed municipal ordinance could provide that protection from prosecution of prostitution, if the person witnessed a serious crime such as murder, assault, or a long list of other serious crimes, or was a victim.

“I think right now the biggest first step we can do is get this ordinance through so people can feel safe coming forward in reporting crimes in Anchorage,” said Burns.

The ordinance will be introduced at Tuesday's Assembly meeting.