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Pimp My Rights
Whore your way to a new car! Sorry, before you get too excited, only police officers need apply.

These days, the LAPD is not just jailing men for soliciting prostitution (which, in my book, shouldn't be a crime). The mere suspicion of soliciting a prostitute allows the cops to seize your car -- under a December 2002 ordinance allowing the municipally-sponsored theft.

That's don't even have to be convicted -- simply suspected:

That accusation can be based on the vaguest of exchanges with the "trick task force" member.

"You just know," a 38-year-old officer identified only as Heather told the Los Angeles Daily News. "You look. You see. You smell it."

Great. That's how I like my rights -- dependent on "Heather's" hair-trigger, nasal-twitch intuition. The story continues:

Once seized, vehicles are held by the city until a civil hearing is held. In this hearing, the traditional rules of evidence and burden of proof do not apply. Instead, the city only needs to prove its case with a "preponderance of the evidence," not establish its case "beyond a reasonable doubt," in order to keep the car. The city attorney then will offer to sell back the car to its owner through a settlement offer. If the settlement is not accepted, the city will auction the car and keep the proceeds. The Los Angeles Police Department plans operate its car seizure sting at least once a month through October.

An LA Daily News article by Susan Abrams says more than 500 cars have been impounded since the city attorney initiated the program in 2003:

The city has made $325,000 in buybacks, though the city attorney's office emphasizes that the program is meant to deter solicitation, not earn money.

Even with the auto seizure program, even as solicitations occur on the Internet or over cell phones, Heather says there are still men who would rather pick up women on the street.

Only twice has she worked a task force when she was unsuccessful. Some officers joke about those moments, of the times when a john offers only $15, Heather said.

"Sometimes you feel a little self-conscious walking back and forth," she said. "It's a tad bit hard on the ego."

And her husband won't watch her work on a task force, even though she's invited him.

"He says, 'No, I don't want to know'," she says.

Heather became a police officer 11 years ago. She grew up in the Valley and had worked as a waitress for eight years. When she attended a seminar and listened to a female LAPD officer talk about the job, she just about signed up on the spot.

I would say prostitution is a much more honest job than Heather's, wouldn't you? It's your body. Why shouldn't it be legal to sell it if you want to? Sell sex. Sell your organs. Why should the state get to regulate you as commerce?

P.S. Rocky Delgadillo is the city attorney, LA residents, and was when the ordinance was enacted. He ran unopposed in 2005. If you're for personal freedom and respect for civil rights, you should probably see to it that he doesn't have your vote next time around -- and that there's somebody around to oppose him in 2009.

In the mean time, as long as this Kelo-for-cars ordinance is in place, have your hookers delivered if you'd like to avoid an unexpected need for new transporation.

via CodeMonkeyRamblings

Posted by aalkon at August 12, 2006 11:59 AM

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If you honestly think he'll be opposed by a pro-prostitution attorney. I'll be glad to withhold my vote.

Somehow, though, I don't think that'll be the case.

Posted by: LYT at August 12, 2006 1:17 AM

Spin, Luke, spin! It would be a pro-civil-liberties attorney.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 12, 2006 1:33 AM


Illegal searches and seizures. Extortion.

Why wait 'til 2009?

They should do to Rocky Delgadillo what they did to Gray Davis. And fast.

Posted by: Doobie at August 12, 2006 6:56 PM

How's that spin? I would love almost nothing more than fully legalized prostitution. I simply cannot imagine any candidate for office running on a platform of being less punitive to hookers and johns -- might as well ask them to ease up on DUI blood alcohol levels too.

Anti-prostitution is one of a few positions agreed on by the religious right, law-and-order conservatives, the nagging PC feminist left, and the alarmed soccer moms. That is unfortunately a bigger bloc than you or I can raise.

Posted by: LYT at August 13, 2006 2:17 AM

Reality bites.

Still, if given the opportunity to bite it back...

If only I could get Delgadillo to agree to a political debate on this and other issues.

P.S. Drunk driving is totally immoral.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 13, 2006 2:24 AM

Mind you, this is the same LAPD that wouldn't lift a finger to reclaim Amy's stolen Rambler, even after she told them who stole it, where they lived, and that it was southbound at the intersection of Orange and Beverly.

Which seems to be the trend in local law enforcement. They're far more interested in dishing out fines to law-abiding citizens for pedantic violations than they are in fighting crimes where people get hurt and killed.

If I was a bit more cynical, I might think this was a fund-raising effort.

Posted by: Gary S. at August 13, 2006 12:10 PM

"P.S. Drunk driving is totally immoral. "
I disagree. Drunk driving is regulated because it is a safety concern. Prostitution is regulated because it is a moral concern (though regulation on a public safety basis is arguably valid as well).

Recalling my memory of DUI legislation, the whole movement came about because of actual damage to actual sons and daughters of some very mad women. Lets pretent the statistical analysis came out that you were no more likely to cause an accident drunk than you were sober. Do you think DUI legislation would have gotten this far on purely moral grounds? It is possible, prohibition happened.

It is wholey wrong, but for practical reasons, not moral ones.

Posted by: smurfy at August 14, 2006 12:15 PM

I'm of the "do no harm" school of regulation. If you drive drunk, you're liable to hit me. If you have sex with a prostitute, unless you're doing it on my front lawn in the middle of a garden party, it's really none of my business.

I don't believe religious morality should be foisted on the public. I have no problem with prostitution, providing it's between consenting adults. You don't believe it's right to have sex with a prostitute, don't have it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2006 3:16 PM

"I'm of the "do no harm" school of regulation."

Me too. And I'm proud to live only 13 miles from legal paid pussy. Just not proud enough to actually spend my money there.

Posted by: smurfy at August 14, 2006 5:52 PM

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