Legal status[ edit ] Exchanging sex for money is illegal, for both the prostitute and the customer, and is classified as a misdemeanor. The law offers no provision to allow a judge to expunge the record of the customers. The crime is also classified as a misdemeanor. The drafters of the law removed the section that addressed committing the act of prostitution itself, and only street solicitation remained illegal.
It has been argued that the lawmakers who amended the Rhode Island prostitution laws in had decriminalized indoor prostitution by mistake, without realizing that the new laws were creating a " loophole. He stated in , "We probably vote on bills a year Not in a million years.
They filed a lawsuit against Rhode Island. The argument was based on how much power the state should have to control the sexual activity of its citizens in the case COYOTE v. The lawsuit also alleged discrimination on how the law was being applied.
Data was submitted that demonstrated selective prosecution, as the Providence Police were arresting female prostitutes far more often than the male customers. Gonnella was Margo St. He argued that the prostitution law was so broad that it failed to even mention money. Rhode Island General Assembly changed the law on prostitution, deleting the statute which prohibited the act of prostitution itself, but continuing to prohibit street solicitation.
State Supreme Court rules in State v. Prostitution charges against four women arrested at two Providence spas were dismissed after attorney Michael J. Kiselica cited the Supreme Court ruling, successfully arguing that Rhode Island had no law against indoor prostitution.
Bill to make prostitution illegal, wherever it occurs, died in the General Assembly; similar bills failed in subsequent years. On November 3, Governor Donald Carcieri signed into law a bill which made it a crime to exchange sex for money. The most prominent proponent of criminalization was Representative Joanne Giannini D. The House voted on this with amendments on May 13, and the bill passed to the Senate Committee on May 28 where it remained until the Assembly recessed for the summer.
The Judiciary Committee conducted hearings on June The Senate hearings attracted much media attention. Asian spa workers, recruited by Tara Hurley , testified against the bill. The Committee recommended version Sub A by a vote of 8: As both the House and the Senate recessed, two separate versions of prostitution bills remained. Both chambers had to approve a single identical bill in order for it to be sent to the Governor, for him to sign it into law.
The two bills differed in the levying of punishment. The Senate version of the bill called for staggered penalties for first, second, and third offenses. The House version of the bill called for no penalties for landlords but contained stiffer penalties for prostitutes and customers who were first-time offenders. Lynch , and Governor Donald Carcieri called for the passage of the House version of the bill, with stiffer penalties for first-time offenders.
Doherty of the Rhode Island State Police testified that the police agency, "cannot support civil sanctions for such reprehensible acts.
Many city spas have stickers decorating doors and windows, along with logos noting that the spa accepts all major credit cards. Sunyo Williams was working in a Pawtucket spa with three other women, and she said through an interpreter that nobody was under any force to work in that field, and that the women were willing to answer one by one and testify that it was their own choice.
She said that each woman had a separate tax identification number and paid taxes, and that all her customers came from Massachusetts , and that the women were making money and spending it in Rhode Island.
On October 28, the House passed a bill which defined the crime of prostitution. On October 29 the bill passed the Senate. Signing the bill into law[ edit ] On November 3, , at a State House ceremony, Governor Donald Carcieri signed into law the bill which outlawed prostitution in Rhode Island.
In addition to the legislation's sponsors, the attendants at the ceremony included Rhode Island Atty. Lynch and State Police Col. Doherty said that the new law "sends a distinct message to any group which thinks they could use Rhode Island in furtherance of their illicit business". Three of the women were charged with prostitution, and one of the women was charged with permitting prostitution.
Attorney General Patrick Lynch plans to appeal. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shut down a brothel operating in a first floor apartment in Providence and arrested two women. CAT was formed by Donna M. In addition to RI Coalition Against Human Trafficking, opposition to the bill came from women's rights groups, anti-trafficking groups, sex workers, and sex educators. In the United States and other places, there are few resources and little support readily available for male sex workers working or living on the streets.
They may be at a higher risk for health problems and abuse. Male street prostitutes may have issues such as drug addiction. Offering support and health care to such stigmatized people can be difficult due to a reluctance to disclose information about their work to health care professionals, which can also make male prostitutes difficult to identify in order to reach out to.
In recent years some organizations directed specifically at helping male sex workers have been founded and some studies have begun being done on this little-studied population. For example, Richard Holcomb , a former sex worker, founded 'Project Weber',  a harm reduction program in Providence , Rhode Island that offers resources and support to male sex workers living on the streets, including a needle exchange and HIV testing. Holcomb cited the lack of data available on male commercial sex workers in the region as his reason for helping develop a survey to assess the needs of this population.
Project Weber recruited and surveyed 50 male sex workers living on the streets of Providence. Holcomb cited the fact that he and members of his team are former sex workers themselves as one of the primary reasons why they were able to gain access to the men in order to conduct this survey.
Holcomb has also created several documentaries meant to draw attention to the subjects of male street prostitution and drug use.