Will San Francisco Vote to Decriminalize Prostitution?

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," October 22 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, HOST: You know, we've been talking about a lot of serious stuff in this hour, so let's have a little fun with this. It is considered the oldest profession in the world. And come November, prostitutes in the city of San Francisco — oh, boy, good for them — could be saved from the local authorities under a new law. It's called Proposition K, and it's a new measure on this year's ballot that would decriminalize prostitution, actually forbidding cops from arresting and prosecuting anyone for selling sex.

Here now is Jeanine Pirro, former prosecutor and the host of the syndicated show called "Judge Jeanine Pirro," on CW Network. And if you haven't seen it, it is fantastic. And we love Jeanine and we are always happy to have you back.

JEANINE PIRRO, HOST, "JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO": Thank you. And it's nice to be home. Really.

Video: Watch Heather Nauert's interview with Jeanine Pirro

NAUERT: Thank you. It is home, isn't it?


NAUERT: Yes, I agree. San Francisco looking at decriminalizing prostitution. They say it is not making prostitution legal but actually, they're decriminalizing it or attempting to. Explain that.

PIRRO: Yes. You know, it's a fascinating theory. What they're doing in this city where, by the way, thousands people go to visit fairs involving sadomasochism. I mean, if any city is going to pass it, it is going to be San Francisco.

But what they're saying is we cannot decriminalize it because a state law says it is against the law, but we're going to tie the hands of law enforcement, the police, the D.A. and anyone investigating these crimes. We will not give them money. And when we do that, by the way, we are saving the taxpayers $11 million that they spend every year on 1,500 prostitution arrests.

NAUERT: So this is San Francisco's next step, essentially. It's a sanctuary city already. Guys break the law - legally. Cops can't arrest them. Cops can't send them back to wherever they came from.


NAUERT: This is just, I guess, the next logical step.

PIRRO: And what they're going to do is they're going to make San Francisco a city where prostitutes are going to flock if this Proposition K passes. And you know, San Francisco is interestingly the - I think, one of the two cities where it has a chance, because Berkeley defeated it a couple of years ago by two-thirds of the vote.

So the problem here is that victims of sex trafficking, Heather, if there is the passage of this ordinance, are going to suffer. The police, law enforcement, will not be able to investigate women who are trafficked into this country as prostitutes.

NAUERT: Right, because you know what? So often, people think, "Oh, it's just totally a choice." But some of these women could be under the control of these vicious violent pimps.


PIRRO: Yes. You know what, Heather? Irrespective of how you feel about prostitution, the truth is sex trafficking is a real crime.

NAUERT: OK. And apparently, these girls or guys would be able to unionize. Some want them to be able to organize and become a union?

PIRRO: Collective bargaining, unionizing. You know, they say it's going to be safer for them. We'll be protected. We'll be able to speak up for each other. We won't have to hide in the shadows. Law enforcement will now protect us.

NAUERT: But what's the point? Is it just saving money for the city? Is that what they think?

PIRRO: I think that now, with some of the, you know, crime and some of the bigger issues, they're saying, "Look, in the scheme of things, this is not a priority. We spend $11 million in San Francisco alone investigating prostitution where people basically get fined. Very few of them go to jail."

But as a former district attorney myself, I would use these women to get information to go up the ladder to find out what was going on. I mean, there is a legitimacy to this.

NAUERT: Yes. Real quickly, what about the Johns? How would they be affected by this?

PIRRO: Well, they wouldn't be prosecuted at all, which is something that made me crazy when I was a D.A. I prosecuted them as much as I did the prostitutes. Because if they don't put their money down, it's not a crime, is it?

NAUERT: Absolutely. Good for you. Let's take a look at this other photo. This is a little off-subject here, but this is something that we found. It was a votive candle that was found in San Francisco, since we're on the topic of San Francisco.

See that? That's a candle that's similar to, you know, a lot of Catholics have. They have Mary on it or one of the saints. Well, this one has Barack Obama on it and has a little halo, and he's wearing the vestments and all that. So it just goes to show what folks are like in San Francisco. Interesting.

PIRRO: A lot of people have different thoughts over there.

NAUERT: We have a lot of folks who were upset about that candle, offended by it. But Barack Obama's folks aren't behind it. Well, we just thought we would show you that. Judge Jeanine Pirro, thanks a lot, on CW. And she's got one of those cool judge shows. This is so much fun to watch.

NAUERT: Thanks a lot.

PIRRO: Thank you.

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