Updated: Jan 22, 2009 06:13 PM
State law bans prostitution in Clark and Washoe Counties and it is up to individual county commissions in rural counties to allow the practice. But State Senator Bob Coffin says it could be time to revaluate those laws.
Political leaders say legalizing prostitution, and then taxing the industry's revenues, could raise hundreds of millions of dollars for state coffers. Senator Coffin believes the time has come for Nevada to seriously consider the concept.
"The point is that this act continues to occur and will always occur and it cannot be stopped and it can only be regulated, and perhaps taxed," he said.
Coffin says his first goal would be to tax existing bordellos, such as those currently operating in Nye County, as well as strip clubs and escort services elsewhere in the state, "When you add it all up, there's a lot to be said for creating a tax on the bordellos, the strip clubs and the escort or entertainment services."
Mayor Oscar Goodman says he's always been willing to have a discussion about legalizing prostitution, but says he will not go so far as to advocate for the change, "I have met with folks from that industry who make a very compelling argument that it could generate $200 million a year in tax dollars. That would buy a lot of textbooks, pay for a lot of teachers."
Proponents believe that legalizing prostitution would also make a safer environment for those working in the industry.
But UNLV Assistant Professor Alexis Kennedy says the research does not necessarily back up that claim, "Research that has been done on the brothel system has shown less violence in the brothels, but it does not remove violence and it is only open to people who can work there legally -- those without diseases, addiction issues, of the age of majority. So it does not capture all of the population either."
A spokesman for Las Vegas Metro Police says, at this point, the department does not know if legalizing prostitution would create any public safety issues. The department says they are going to reserve judgment until they see the specific language of the legislation, if it ever gets that far.
My take on this issue:
The prostitution is not going to cease. Whether you approve or not is of no significance, it will not diminish the big dollars generated. Unless you are currently a customer and decide to no longer buy the services.
If there were legal, regulated brothels many of the women who work the streets would be there in a minute, as it is a far less dangerous environment in which to conduct business.
If there were legal brothels - IMHO - many, if not most of those looking for paid sex would patronize those establishments as a far safer alternative to picking up a streetwalker or bar-cruiser of unknown health and of unknown motives. Patrons are often robbed or otherwise harmed by unregulated prostitutes or their controllers. Often it is not something the women take part in voluntarily.
I think that the casino industry does not want the competition of the bars and other amenities provided by brothels or we would have them already, after all - conduct which was, and still is in many places regarded as sinful, has been the "stock-in-trade" of Nevada in general and Las Vegas in particular for generations. Yes, folks, it's not our huge manufacturing capacity which pays the bills here...
I don't patronize prostitutes, and I don't particularly care for the business in any form but that certainly does not change the fact that they exist and that there are customers aplenty for the services offered. If you should happen to want to see for yourself, I recommend a short tour through the Sprint - sorry -Embarq yellow pages: start just past engraving and you will find entertainers and so on. Full page advertisements in the yellow pages are not inexpensive. I'm guessing that these businesses generate a lot of income.
I also think that the availability of legal, regulated brothels would cut deeply into the profits of those who entice or force young women and under-aged girls into the sex trade. I don't know of any hard data which will support or falsify my opinions pertaining to this matter but will welcome any hard information. I'll even listen to your unsupported beliefs. Yes, yes.. I know that it's a sin and that Christians are against it as are Jews and Muslims. Hell, maybe even the Zoroastrians are against it by now. Fear of being stoned does not stop the behavior, fear of prison does not stop it - curtail it a bit? Probably that is true - but it certainly is not stopped.
Few rational men would choose a liaison with a woman of unknown health and possibly larcenous designs for sexual gratification if a legal, licensed and regulated establishment were available to them. There are among us men, and maybe some women too, who are not really interested in having a sexual partner who is above the legal age of consent. I choose to consider that as irrational. Those people will not, probably, go to a brothel but will continue to pick up - or kidnap young girls off the streets if they are able to do so... That is a whole separate issue, and is properly a law enforcement challenge. People who coerce under-age children, even those who think that they are grown-up, into prostitution are beneath my conception of human and... well, I'd better not go there.
On the other hand I don't think that unemployed females should be denied unemployment compensation by the state because they decline to accept a job in a brothel. I'm not a lawyer and can't interpret the law in such cases but have not heard of such a thing happening in Nye County or any county in Nevada where prostitution is allowed. If you know different - please enlighten me.
In short - denying that prostitution exists does not make it go away, nor does making it a crime. People, male and female, will do what they want - or need - in this area without respect to its illegality or your - or my -belief in its immorality. No jurisdiction, even using draconian measures has ever in the history of the human race succeeded in eliminating sex for pay, even when or where it was a capital offense . Refusing to legalize the business because we believe it to be wrong does not change the facts.