About the proposed SOAP Ordinance
IN A NUTSHELL: The SOAP Ordinance would give Police and MPSA Patrol a more powerful tool in driving out street prostitution afflicting certain parts of the neighborhood…
SOAP – what it is:
Legislation, known as SOAP (Stay Out of Area – Prostitution) is in the works to more effectively address the problem of street prostitution throughout the city. The SOAP legislation would banish those convicted of prostitution and directly-related offenses from areas noted for a high incidence of prostitution. This banishment would be in effect for the duration of a one-year probation period. Upon a second offense, the offender would be banned from the entire city during the period of probation. Those found in prostitution areas or in city limits, respectively, in violation of the banishment would be arrested on sight. In other words, their mere presence in a prostitution area after an arrest during a vice sting would, in itself, constitute a violation of city ordinance.
Other comparable cities like Seattle have implemented SOAP ordinances to combat street prostitution. This is very similar to SODA (stay out of drug area) and PEO (Parks Exclusion Orders) laws in Seattle and other cities.
Why we need this:
Midtown critically needs this ordinance in order to get rid of certain chronic criminals. All too often APD makes arrests during vice stings, only to see the offenders return right back to where they were arrested perhaps after serving a brief jail time.
With time they become increasingly more difficult to deal with because repeated arrests for prostitution require more turnover among vice detectives than is feasible. The prostitutes know who the vice officers are after one or two arrests, and officers working vice detail have to go through special training.
The SOAP legislation, once passed, will provide police officers with another tool to reduce policing needs in the longer run. It certainly will not be a silver bullet, but will yield one more powerful tool to enhance and maintain a good measure of public safety and order.
How the SOAP legislation would help street prostitutes:
Since illegal drugs drive street prostitution, the mere presence of street prostitutes presents a prolific factor in their involvement in drug activity draining the quality of life in a given community. Any hope of recovery from drug addiction requires first and foremost that the addicted prostitute removes him/herself from an environment in which street prostitution and other enabling factors occur.
Being able to get away with “just one more” seriously undermines any chances of rising above life on the streets. Driving a prostitute to make a choice between jail and rehabilitation very effectively removes them from a life of street crime. We certainly would like to see street prostitutes move beyond this way of life, but at very minimum they must discontinue their negative influence upon the surrounding community. It gives the offender one last opportunity to shape up or ship out. SOAP legislation holds the most promise of accomplishing this objective, and thereby contributing to a win-win situation for all concerned.
Where the SOAP legislation stands now:
The proposed legislation, put together by Councilman Michael Julian Bond, first went through the Public Safety Committee and received a favorable recommendation. But when it went before the full council, it was pulled from the agenda and sent back to the Committee for more work due to opposition from some City Council members. Specifically, councilors Ivory Young, Yolanda Adrean, and Aaron Watson felt that such banishment would be too cruel. So the paper was sent back to the PS-LA Committee to be discussed more on February 11th. This is where the community needs to make a good showing.
Gallery: Street Prostitution in Midtown
RELATED POSTS AND RESOURCES:
- Call to Action: SOAP Legislation
- Notes on Midtown Street Prostitution, with photo gallery
- SOAP Legislation paper from City Council