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Decriminalization Laws for Minors

By February 6, 2018December 16th, 2019Shared Hope, Student Staff
My name is Amanda Lopez and I am a 1L serving as a student staff member for the Center for Global Justice. I have the privilege of being assigned to a Shared Hope project considering whether Alabama, Utah, and Missouri’s decriminalization (for minors) laws could raise due process issues by allowing minors to be arrested for prostitution even though they cannot be prosecuted for prostitution.

Having more than six years of work experience in law enforcement, I can easily see both sides of this issue. I have always had a heart for trafficking victims, but on the law enforcement side of things, I can understand the need to “detain” these victims in some way in order to provide them with necessary services and shelter.

Though I am early into my research on this subject, I am astounded at the difference between federal and state laws. The federal government views such minors as victims who are eligible for specialized services, while many states treat these minors as offenders. Even in those states with safe harbor statutes, there may be a disconnect between the statute and law enforcement implementation. I am excited to do more research on this issue to see if, or how, the courts have handled this subject.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.