Anti-prostitution bill targets "johns"

July 9, 2008 3:45:48 PM PDT
City leaders in Easton have an idea about how to fight its prostitution problem: If the threat of jail isn't enough...maybe taking away the cars of those who violate the law would work. Prostitution, of course, is illegal in Pennsylvania.

But the world's oldest profession has become so common in Easton that many local residents can actually tell you when and where to pick up a hooker.

That's why the municipal council has come up a proposal that would allow the city to permanently seize the vehicle of anyone caught trying to solicit a prostitute.

Easton police Officials are hoping the measure becomes a law.

"I think it would be a big deterrent if it passed?if you knew it would cost you $20,000, the price of a car," said Easton police Capt. Michael Vangelo.

But those who oppose the plan say there's one over-riding reason why the proposal will not work: they say it's illegal.

They claim the ban on prostitution is a state law, so the state has the responsibility to decide the due punishments for hookers and their clientele.

Gary Asteak, a defense attorney in Easton, says the city's proposal would, in effect, override Pennsylvania law.

"It becomes a draconian penalty. If the state legislature thought it was an appropriate penalty they would have passed it themselves," he said.

City officials plan to vote on the measure at a meeting Wednesday night.


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