Monday July 19th many of us flooded City Council Chambers with our families and friends in tow. We found it important to stand up against Councilor Ferrera's proposal to create a mandatory minimum sentence for people offering as well as people soliciting sex for a fee. There were many reasons to oppose this ridiculous proposal. For one, Arise has fought for years for the decriminalization of prostitution in Springfield. Secondly, most women charged with such "crimes" are already serving 9-18 months in the Chicopee Jail so this mandatory minimum would just be redundant--but would give the inflated impression that Councilor Ferrera was tough on crime. Thirdly, even the Dept of Corrections is re-evaluating mandatory minimums and the ways in which they create large racial disparities in our criminal (in)justice system. Additionally we would like to see the City Councilors creating plans to reduce poverty in Springfield NOT working to further criminalize acts of survival. Arise members, OUTNOW members, Prison Birth Project members and other concerned people filled council chambers carrying signs and taking the mic during the speak-out period. Fortunately the Council saw the wisdom brought forth by the community and voted Ferrera's proposal down 12 to 1!
The media seemed overwhelmed with the concept that SO many queers and kids were moved to speak out against this measure, evident by this amazing news clip: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/news/local/Prostitution-penalties-stay-the-same--98862014.html