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Crime

Los Angeles Flirts With Pre-Crime (washingtonpost.com) 390

An anonymous reader writes: The city of Los Angeles is considering a new plan to fight prostitution: sending letters to men who solicit prostitutes in the hopes that the letters are seen by family members. Why not just arrest them while they're doing it? Because these letters aren't being sent to the houses of men who were convicted, or even arrested. Instead, automated license plate readers would scan the cars driving down streets known to have a prostitution problem, and the letters would be sent to the address associated with those vehicles. An article about the plan says, "There isn't 'potential' for abuse here, this is a legislated abuse of technology that is already controversial when it's used by police for the purpose of seeking stolen vehicles, tracking down fugitives and solving specific crimes."
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Los Angeles Flirts With Pre-Crime

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  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:08PM (#51037803) Homepage Journal

    They're used to being sued, and losing. I guess they're under budget this year, and need to spend a few more million before New Years day on legal fees.

    • by bagboy ( 630125 )
      Hey, in California, the government authorities are always looking for a reason to raise taxes. Making up the difference in legal fees might just be another way of skimming additional revenue.
      • Hey, in California, the government authorities are always looking for a reason to raise taxes. Making up the difference in legal fees might just be another way of skimming additional revenue.

        I see this as more a response to being unable to raise taxes. We have laws against prostitution which require money to enforce. We have much bigger problems that are more deserving of what law enforcement dollars exist. So how to enforce this law without spending money on it? Try to chill it. It's cheaper than enforce

    • by NoKaOi ( 1415755 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:57PM (#51038057)

      They're used to being sued, and losing.

      Yup, and apparently they don't care. I'm pretty sure what they are doing is the epitome of libel. It's not abuse of technology, and future president is not at question. They are intentionally trying to defame somebody by accusing them of something they haven't done.

    • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @12:39AM (#51038813) Homepage Journal

      If Jesus were alive today, the LAPD would send a letter to His family informing them that he might have a prostitution problem.

  • It reminds me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:08PM (#51037809)

    It reminds me of when I visited a friend in hospital, then as I walked back to where I had parked past an abandoned strip club a woman driving past yelled angrily at me "I hope you had a good time". False positives like that are bound to happen.

    • Re:It reminds me (Score:5, Interesting)

      by slazzy ( 864185 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:15PM (#51037849) Homepage Journal
      On "black friday" I had someone yell at me for parking in a handicap parking spot, until I pointed the the sign that actually said for parents with small children only (of which I had my two small children in the car... false positives are guaranteed to happen.
    • Re:It reminds me (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:39PM (#51037981)

      It reminds me of when I visited a friend in hospital, then as I walked back to where I had parked past an abandoned strip club a woman driving past yelled angrily at me "I hope you had a good time". False positives like that are bound to happen.

      As a high school senior I was once visiting a building that had a bunch of picketers outside, a building with a medical clinic that provided STD screenings and abortions. When a pair of "grandmotherly" ladies with concerned looks approached me and asked if I was visiting the clinic on such and such a floor I truthfully answered that I was visiting the Marine Corp recruiter on a different floor. Their concerned looks turned into expressions of joy and love and they said "that's wonderful". When I responded to their reactions with "so its perfectly OK to kill once the other person is born?", their reactions changed to a bit hostile. I think they would have been less hostile had I said I'm meeting my girlfriend for her abortion. The hypocrisy of their "all life is sacred" argument annoyed me. I would have been polite had they offered me some bible versus to read before going in, made some sort of anti-war comment in keeping with their "all life is sacred" notion. Such comments would have been consistent with their beliefs.

      • I think the reasoning goes something like, "all life is sacred until a person does something wrong to ruin their own life's sacredness."
      • So it wasn't just me that thought it's odd that Jesus fan club is more concerned about the yet-to-be life than already existing life? They will fight tooth and nail for you to get born, but as soon as you get popped out, you're on your own.

        I can kinda understand it. I mean, projects are more interesting while they're still in creation than when they're done. But still.

      • Re:It reminds me (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @01:42AM (#51039019)

        I know someone whose wife was pregnant. The pregnancy went horribly wrong and the fetus had zero chance of survival (congenital deformities as well as no bladder or kidneys). They had to make a choice I wouldn't wish on anyone: Have an abortion or carry it to term and give birth to a dead baby. The latter would also have put his wife in danger also so they decided on the abortion.

        On their way into the clinic, they were accosted by pro-life demonstrators who verbally abused them for "murdering their baby." Here's a couple who is making a horrible decision after being through a horrible situation and these people just walk up with no knowledge of the situation and pile more abuse on. When his wife was taken in for the procedure (he wasn't allowed in), he decided he had enough and confronted them. He even videoed it and posted it to YouTube as well as blogged [goodmenproject.com] about it.

        Regardless of your views, preying on people at their weakest (physically or psychologically) is just wrong. If you want to oppose abortion in the political arena, go right ahead (but don't be surprised if you're opposed by those who want abortion to remain an option). However, don't just assume you know the whole tale and then assume you know what's right for the person you're accosting. Some people need to re-learn the grade school lesson about what happens when you "assume."

        (NOTE: I'm using the general "you" here. Not referring to anyone in particular here.)

        • Re:It reminds me (Score:4, Interesting)

          by climb_no_fear ( 572210 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @03:10AM (#51039231)
          Unfortunately true similar tale:

          A friend of mine got pregnant, unplanned but she was old enough to be happy anyway and say what the hell, I'll be a single mom.

          She went for her checkups and scans and the doctor found a cyst in her uterus. The observed it for a couple of weeks and it was growing like crazy. Doctor told her it would kill her long before the baby could be born if she didn't have it removed (which meant removing her uterus and, of course, the fetus).

          She was naturally distraught but after a couple of days made the only sensible decision she could and went back to the doctor at that hospital.

          He told her with a horrified look and told her that they don't do "that sort of procedure" at this hospital.

          She went to a nearby city and had to re-explain everything, have records transferred, etc, in order to save her own life...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:09PM (#51037815)

    Seriously, if a girl wants to sell her body, why shouldn't she?

    • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:37PM (#51037965) Homepage
      Strictly speaking, she's not selling her body, she's offering a short-term rental. And, of course, not all prostitutes are women.
      • by drpimp ( 900837 )
        He/She is providing a service which is in many cases not taxable. This is the biggest reason why government does not approve of this. That said, prostitution is like the Uber of the past without the geolocational appity apps. Anyone can work that has a body and is willing to compromise on a price for said services. The real problems come with all the other crime and societal fallout involved in such activities.
    • Seriously, if a girl wants to sell her body, why shouldn't she?

      Because the government hasn't figured out a way to collect tax on that kind of income without implicitly condoning the behavior/occupation and offending people. Same for drugs.

      • In Germany prostitutes are either employees and the employer pays the tax for them (deduces it from the wages), at the end of the year they file a tax declaration, like anybody else, or they are freelancers and they file their tax declaration at the end of the year.
        Most countries around us are similar in that regard.

      • So condone it. What exactly is the fucking problem?

      • by Mr.CRC ( 2330444 )

        Then the obvious solution is to end taxes on all personal business matters. Unless they are working out of a store front.

        People are so concerned about unemployment, low wages, etc., yet think everything has to be heavily controlled by government. Allowing more small scale business to be untaxed just means more economic activity.

        The government does not always have to "do something."

    • Seriously, if a girl wants to sell her body, why shouldn't she?

      Agreed. Call girls and escorts can make a good relatively safe living, with well to do clients. These are not them. These are drug addicts with pimps who beat them if they don't hustle enough. It's a tough, dangerous, and diseased lifestyle that is illegal in many ways besides the selling of their bodies.

      • Wow, where do you get your information from? Crime TV shows?

        You know, legal prostitution would instantly do away with these. Seriously. Who'd want to solicit sex from that kind of prostitute if you can have something else?

      • ... with pimps who beat them if they don't hustle enough.

        In the book Superfreakonomics [amazon.com] the authors conducted a study of prostitutes and pimps, and found that the women who worked with pimps were paid better and were less likely to be victims of violence. Some pimps had waiting lists of freelance prostitutes that wanted to join their teams, to benefit from the better working conditions. The authors found that pimps rarely used violence against their own prostitutes.

        • by hjf ( 703092 )

          This.
          A cop told me once she was tired of the low pay. And she's been around for a while. And if she had to start a business tomorrow, she'd just pimp two girls at a house. Provide them with security (the moment they yell, storm into the room and put a gun to the asshole's face), clean environment, etc, and the girls will gladly work for a pimp.
          Female prostitutes often prefer to be pimped instead of going freelance, because they can't get "good corners", due to transvestite/transsexuals beating the shit out

    • Seriously, if a girl wants to sell her body, why shouldn't she?

      The reason is governments prefer to spend their time fostering unground untaxed, unregulated criminal markets where people are treated like slaves and placed in unnecessary danger.

      I don't know why government actively seeks to erode their own legitimacy like this while subjecting their own citizens to unnecessary harm but they routinely do so with reckless abandon.

    • Not all prostitute are female, there are so called gigolo too.
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:09PM (#51037819) Journal

    Instead, automated license plate readers would scan the cars driving down streets known to have a prostitution problem, and the letters would be sent to the address associated with those vehicles.

    Automated iris recognition scanning software should then be used to identify all milk drinkers as children, as a very high percentage of pedophiles drank milk as children.

    • It's worse than this. I can't really let out too much yet, but I'm about to publish a revelation that will probably shock the nation. Nearly all, or even all, pedophiles once actually WERE children themselves.

      I know, I know, it's a huge controversy and everyone's saying "blaming the victim" and all that, but think about it: Who could better be attracted to a child than: Someone who was one himself?

      Hmm?

      IT SHOULD BE SO OBVIOUS!

  • Easy fix (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Find scanner id politicians license plates put fake plates on car drive by scanner. Law repealed. Problem solved.
  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:16PM (#51037857)

    Are the police insane? So if someone drives down the wrong street because they don't know that you're not supposed to drive down that street, the police are going to ruin their marriage? For that matter, if someone happens to drive to a bar in that neighborhood, the police are going to harass them?

    *Headdesk*

    Also, cue the lawsuit in 3... 2... 1...

    • Re: WTF? (Score:4, Funny)

      by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@noSPAM.smokingcube.be> on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:26PM (#51037915) Homepage

      If a baseless accusation of being a John ruins your marriage, you got bigger problems to worry about. I'd recommend you visit a good divorce attorney tomorrow.

      • Um.... I'm not sure what's worse, paying an attorney or living with a woman who doesn't trust you, depends on the hourly rate I guess.... May I suggest that perhaps it is time for marriage counseling? Could be cheaper and might actually fix something...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Marriage is built on trust. Anything that puts a crack in that trust, unfounded or not, can ruin marriages. It all depends on who you're married to and what their reaction is.

      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        > If a baseless accusation of being a John ruins your marriage, you got bigger problems to worry about. I'd recommend you visit a good divorce attorney tomorrow.

        Good fucking grief. No, if a baseless accusation of being a John ruins your marriage, you sue for libel.

        You understand that there are a lot of people who have a relationship that is ok, but that something like this would make a lot worse, right? And that your moralizing about how their relationship should be perfect or not exist at all wouldn't

      • Re: WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) <lelanthran@gmaiGAUSSl.com minus math_god> on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @01:34AM (#51038991) Homepage Journal

        If a baseless accusation of being a John ruins your marriage, you got bigger problems to worry about. I'd recommend you visit a good divorce attorney tomorrow.

        If a baseless accusation of being paedophile/embezzler/thief/terrorist ruins your employers trust in you, you got bigger problems to worry about.

        (See how that works?)

      • Re: WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @01:55AM (#51039047)

        If a baseless accusation of being a John ruins your marriage, you got bigger problems to worry about. I'd recommend you visit a good divorce attorney tomorrow.

        This isn't just some random guy walking up to a couple and saying "Your husband was seen with a prostitute." This is an official letter from the police. There's (for better or worse) a sense of authority there. People (such as his wife, family, friends, co-workers) will think "they wouldn't be accusing him of that unless there was proof it happened." Even if he denies it, the doubt will still be there. (After all, someone who is guilty would deny it too, right?)

        This could either lead to more problems or worsen existing ones. Perhaps the couple is going through money problems and stress is running high. The husband was supposed to be out looking for work (and was) but now the wife wonders if instead he was spending what little money they have left on prostitutes. Is it rational? No, but people can often be irrational when in the heat of the moment. Something like this could crumble a relationship all because LA is trying to "tackle pre-crime."

        Coming at this from another angle, if it doesn't ruin relationships, it could ruin the reputation of the police department (or what little reputation it has left). If people see these letters as a joke, then any accusation from the police might be seen as false. Actual criminal cases could be impacted because people don't take the police seriously.

    • Also, cue the lawsuit in 3... 2... 1...

      I think THIS will be the eventual result. The city will loose it's shirt if it tries this..

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      re "So if someone drives down the wrong street because they don't know that you're not supposed to drive down that street"
      This tech has been used in boarder states for years on local roads, to get an image of the driver and passenger, front and back plates and a stingray like device to get the cell phone details (bonus voice print if in use).
      The tech is now so cheap that its been sold and supported at a city and state level.
      A not visible to the press digital Berlin wall that no registered transport can e
    • by eth1 ( 94901 )

      1. Note license plates in the LAPD employee parking lot, and around city hall
      2. Make license plate-sized signs with the numbers
      3. Hold them up in front of the ANPR cameras on these streets
      4. ????

    • by MacDork ( 560499 )
      It could be so much more fun than this though. Think about it. They are MAILING the letters. Anyone can stick something in the mail. So drive your car down prostitute lane until you get one on purpose. Once you get one, scan, shop, print, mail to all the people you don't like. Hell, get one just to put together a web app and charge $5 to send them. Just enter a name and address of an LA resident. Web app will handle the rest.
  • Bankers, Hedge and Mortgage Fund managers reminding them to not tank the economy again so they can make an extra nickel.

    Police reminding them to not shoot unarmed civilians.

    ... etc ...

  • by CrashPoint ( 564165 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:34PM (#51037945)
    This is a little beyond "flirting" with pre-crime. This is more like taking pre-crime to Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick out curtains for the apartment you and pre-crime are about to move into.
  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:41PM (#51037995)
    Just steal a car before you start scoping out the whores. It works in GTA.
  • Perhaps someone needs to take pics of cops and post them publicly and to their managers as well.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:48PM (#51038025) Journal
    5... 4... 3... 2... 1...
  • I would take each letter and send it on to each of the people behind this idea. That way they get to experience the joy of explaining why the letter is being sent to them and maybe realize just why such a letter might be a bad idea.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's that? Prostitutes are on my way home from work? Thanks for letting me know!

  • Follow the Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Princeofcups ( 150855 ) <john@princeofcups.com> on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @10:08PM (#51038115) Homepage

    As often is the case, you just have to follow the money trail. Someone paid off someone else to push their expensive license plate scanners and services. The police may not even have wanted to do this, but someone up the chain of command got a free vacation home in the Bahamas for implementing the program. It'll all get swept under the rug soon, after enough uproar.

  • Stop criminalizing sex. Just like pot, it's only sketchy 'cause it's illegal. Sure, there's still potential for abuse and harm... but in our present system, the laws mandate harm done to prostitutes and johns who are, by and large, just consenting adults. Unlike pot, shagging for pay doesn't harm one's ability to drive for the next few hours.
    • Most prostitutes aren't doing it because they want to, they're doing it because their either forced or it's the only way to make ends meet. Maybe if we had a robust social safety net + basic income so that we could honestly say that no one was coerced into it you'd have a point, but good luck with that.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @10:20PM (#51038165)
    I've been trying come up with a concrete example of how license plate readers could be abused and here we are.
  • Morons. They'll ruin peoples lives, likely based on some moron that saw Minority Report and thought it was a Good Idea. Someone doesn't just need to be fired outright for this, someone needs to be dragged out into the street and flogged publicly over it. You can't convict someone for a crime you think they MIGHT commit, and what they're doing here has essentially the same effect with regard to the general public.
    • Morons. They'll ruin peoples lives, likely based on some moron that saw Minority Report and thought it was a Good Idea.

      The surprising thing, to me, was that the people making the movie and TV show seemed to really think it was a good idea. They didn't think they were making a dystopian cautionary tale, they thought they were making a clever crime story set in an actually desirable future.

  • Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @10:35PM (#51038259) Homepage

    1. Copy legislator's license plates.
    2. Place phony plates on cars near streets known to have a prostitution problem.
    3. Hilarity ensues as Los Angeles legislators get prostitution warning letters.

  • by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @10:59PM (#51038351)

    Hell, I'd show my SO what the PD is doing, and we'd get in the car together and go trolling for letters. Then it can "ruin our marriage," or whatever, and we can see if we can get a nice chunk of money.

  • So you drive down the street and your home gets a letter saying you were driving down a street with prostitutes. So... why don't they just close the street?
  • really not a problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by david_bonn ( 259998 ) <davidbonn@ma c . c om> on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @11:28PM (#51038481) Homepage Journal

    When you RTFA it says the proposal has been referred to the City Attorney.

    So the City Attorney will write back that this is a Stupid Idea. Said idea is circular filed and life goes on.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @11:39PM (#51038533) Homepage

    So now they are working on the easy stuff. So glad robberies and murders are over with...

    Oh wait....

  • ... wouldn't care.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:05AM (#51039929)

    Typical for L.A. In New York, people use the underground and taxis to drive to their extra-marital blowjobs.

  • by Deep Esophagus ( 686515 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @11:38AM (#51041271)
    Los Angeles is not just flirting with pre-crime; it's driving down streets known to have a pre-crime problem.

Air pollution is really making us pay through the nose.

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