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Prostitution is something many people may not see or hear about often in our region, but it does happen. Now, a group of Vermont lawmakers is pushing to decriminalize it in an effort to keep sex workers safe. Vermont State Police have made fewer than 20 prostitution arrests since , but some lawmakers say it's not about how common prostitution is. Selene Colburn, P-Burlington. Prostitution is illegal on the federal level and in almost every state, including Vermont, where it is a misdemeanor.

Only in a few Nevada counties has sex work been decriminalized. And under Colburn's proposal, Vermont could them. Colburn, who introduced a bill with the support of three other women lawmakers, believes if the state decriminalized prostitution, it could help some sex workers avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking. Another bill would establish a good Samaritan law where sex workers could come forward to police with information about a crime without having to fear prosecution for their prostitution.

Advocates say the criminalization of sex work doesn't prevent it from happening, it only creates conditions that are unsafe. But Vermont's chief juvenile defender, Marshall Pahl, believes decriminalization and a good Samaritan law isn't enough to prevent sex trafficking or to use it as a means to escape. He equates it to those who call in about drug overdoses and how they are unaware they are shielded from prosecution. There has been a nationwide movement to push for the decriminalization of sex work. Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says it is certainly something that should be considered.

WCAX News reached out to other leading Democratic candidates for president and the president's team to hear their stance, but we did not hear back before this story was published. There is a difference between decriminalizing prostitution and legalizing it.

Decriminalization means there will be no arrests made or charges brought if someone is caught engaging in prostitution-- basically no punishment in Vermont-- but there will be no law on the books proclaiming that prostitution is legal here. . Meet the Team. Order Channel 3 News Stories.

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