A few days ago, I wrote about the Predator Accountability Act being considered by the Illinois legislature. This bill would allow prostitutes to sue their pimps for damages. I pointed out a few problems with the bill.
After writing my little screed, it occurred to me that one defense of this bill is that it gives prostitutes access to the courts to obtain damages. Because prostitution is a crime, prostitutes generally don’t have much access to the courts, and lack of access to the courts is almost always a bad thing for people.
I believe economist David Friedman has suggested that providing an informal justice system for criminals is one of the reasons the Mafia exists. Think of Tony Soprano trying to resolve conflicts between his various lieutenants.
It stands to reason that allowing prostitutes to sue would therefore be a good thing, right? Well…
The problem is that the people who want to allow prostitutes to sue don’t really want them to have access to the courts. I know this because nothing in this act gives prostitutes access to the courts in the way that would be most important to them: The right to use the courts to collect from customers who don’t pay.
Or from agencies that don’t split the money like they promised.
I’m not suggesting we should create special rules that allow certain types of criminals to sue other criminals over difficulties carrying out their criminal conspiracy. That would be a huge departure from current law. People involved in criminal acts cannot usually sue over problems arising from those acts, and that’s how it should be.
What I’m suggesting is that best way to help prostitutes, if that’s really your goal, is to legalize prostitution.