Senate Bill 91 Improves Safety for Sex Workers

The passage of Senate Bill 91 was a step towards enfranchising people in the sex trade into Alaska’s promise of equal protection under the law for all.

The omnibus crime bill contained language that allows a victim or witness to report some violent felonies to the police without being charged with prostitution under Alaska state law. This much needed fix will incentivize reporting and investigation of serious crimes and help police get dangerous predators off the streets instead of arresting us for trying to report.

“Senate Bill 91 took an important step towards clarifying the difference between prostitution and sex trafficking, closing loopholes that allowed law enforcement to spend Alaska’s finite resources arresting and charging folks for sex trafficking themselves”, said Maxine Doogan. “The threat of being convicted of felony charges had become a barrier preventing witnesses and victims from reporting serious crimes for fear of being charged with trafficking ourselves”.

It’s historic that Alaska lawmakers recognized the overbroad nature of the 2012 law and when presented with evidence of the unintended consequences moved quickly to correct it.

“While Senate Bill 91 altered the state’s prostitution statute to offer situational immunity for victims or witnesses reporting some violent felonies, the Municipality of Anchorage’s prostitution code can still be used against victims who are reporting serious crimes like sex trafficking,” said Terra Burns. Sex workers, sex trafficking victims, and advocates are calling on the Municipality to join the state in allowing victims and witnesses to report without being charged with practicing prostitution under Anchorage’s Municipal code.