How to Support NH HB 287 (2017)

      Comments Off on How to Support NH HB 287 (2017)

Please urgently write and/or call into members of an NH Criminal Justice and Safety subcommittee to support the study of decriminalizing sex work!

Dear Friends,

New Hampshire bill, HB 287 was introduced earlier in 2017 and it proposes a study on the decriminalization of sex work. A subcommittee has been set up of five members and they have a year to work on the study.  

The first meeting of the subcommittee is September 5th, 2017 at 10 am. The meeting will be in the Legislative Office Building, which is directly behind the State House.


Last year a bill was put forward in the legislature to decriminalize prostitution in NH with HB 1614   which lost by only 7 votes.  This is the only known bill proposing decriminalization in the US!  The subcommittee to study decriminalization is a direct result of that HB 1614 and an exciting opportunity to keep the debate on decriminalization moving and growing.

NH Representative Elizabeth Edwards is one of the sponsors of HB  287.   The committee hearing is open to anyone to attend. Campaigners for decriminalization including Bella Robinson of COYOTE/Rhode Island,  Dr Joelle Ryan Ruby who teaches women gender studies at UNH and NH sex workers and former sex workers will be attending.

Importance of making our voices heard

Anti-decriminalization forces are gearing up to try and influence the committee.  Donna Hughes, an anti-sex work academic who led the effort to criminalize prostitution in Rhode Island, has been invited to attend the September 5 meeting.  A Catholic Church bishop is also attending.

It is urgent that we inform the members of the subcommittee why we support decriminalization. It would also be useful to send them articles that explain the difference between sex work and trafficking. Also important for committee members to see studies on the high costs to taxpayers of enforcing prostitution laws and the incalculable human cost of criminalization. We hope you will consider writing or calling subcommittee members, and if at all possible attending the first or subsequent meetings. When the subcommittee hears our views face-to-face, it makes a big difference. Letters, articles, phone calls also have a crucial impact. Some of us attended and spoke at a  hearing last year on the HB 1614 to decriminalize sex work and we had a positive impact on House Criminal Justice committee members.

Some points to make in your letter may include that decriminalization that would:

1)  Increase safety as sex workers could work together and can more easily report violence:

2)  Enhance health as sex workers could more easily access services and wouldn’t be deterred from carrying condoms for fear that they will be used as evidence of prostitution:

3)  Free up police time to focus on the investigation of violent crimes such as rape and domestic violence rather than the policing of consenting sex:

4) End criminal records which bar sex workers from getting other jobs. This is crucial for anyone who may want to leave the sex industry and is unable to.

Impact of policing of prostitution

There is no evidence that decriminalizing prostitution attracts crime, in fact, it decreases crime, much as revoking prohibition reduced crime. But criminalization encourages police corruption.  The major police abuse scandal in the Oakland/Bay Area of some 30 police taking advantage of and having sex with a young woman, including when she was underage, is the tip of the iceberg. The illegal status of sex work gives the police enormous powers over sex workers using the threat of arrest. One study showed that 14% of sex workers reported being threatened with arrest unless they have sex with a police officer and 8% reported being arrested after having sex with a police officer.  Another study by Coyote RI and the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University (2014-2016), revealed that 24% of the 62 RI sex workers that were surveyed, reported that they had been raped, robbed or assaulted by police officers

Impact of poverty

You may also want to raise that rising poverty is increasing the numbers of women, particularly mothers, going into prostitution, teenagers are trading sex for food. An aim of reducing prostitution would be better achieved by tackling poverty and providing resources.

Decriminalization works

New Zealand Model successfully decriminalized prostitution in 2003 and a government review showed positive results: no rise in prostitution; women able to report violence without fear of arrest; attacks cleared up more quickly; sex workers more able to leave prostitution as convictions are cleared from their records; drug users treated as patients, not criminals.

Support for decriminalization

Many prominent organizations support the decriminalization of sex work including Amnesty International,  UN AIDS; United Nations Development Program; World Health Organization; Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women; Human, Rights Watch; United Nations Population Fund; The Lancet Medical, Journal; Open Society Foundation.

Also, see  Sex Workers Rights Joint Statement

Please see below the list and emails/phone numbers of the 5 subcommittee members to call or send your letters.


Renny Cushing 395 Winnacunnet Road Hampton, NH  03842-2732

Phone (603)926-2737



Dave Testerman  PO Box 36  Franklin, NH  03235-0036

Phone*: (603) 320-9524



Dennis Fields 429 Lower Bay Road Sanbornton, NH  03269-2712

Phone: (603)528-6224



Jody McNally  13 Stillwater Circle Rochester, NH  03839-4962

Phone (603)330-7655



Linn Opderbecke 10 Pearson Drive Dover, NH  03820-4621

Phone: (603)742-4119




For more information contact

Bella Robinson

401 525 8757


N.H. HB 287 Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

HB 287 – AS INTRODUCED 2017 SESSION 17-0736 04/01
 BILL 287

AN ACT establishing a committee to study decriminalizing sex work.
SPONSORS: Rep. E. Edwards, Hills. 11; Rep. Bouldin, Hills. 12; Rep. McGuire, Merr. 29; Rep. Murray, Rock. 24 COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety


This bill establishes a committee to study the decriminalization of sex work.  

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




 In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seventeen

 AN ACT establishing a committee to study decriminalizing sex work.

 Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1  Committee Established.  There is established a committee to study the decriminalization of sex work.

2  Membership and Compensation.

I.  The members of the committee shall be as follows:

(a)  Three members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.

(b)  Three members of the senate, appointed by the president of the senate.

II.  Members of the committee shall receive mileage at the legislative rate when attending to the duties of the committee.

3  Duties.  The committee shall study:

I.  The positive and negative results of criminalizing sex work, decriminalizing the selling of sex, and decriminalizing both the buying and selling of sex work, including the effects on rates of rape and sexual assault, rates of sexually transmitted infections, costs to the police and court systems, number of arrests for prostitution, effects on future earnings potential to men and women with arrest records or conviction records, and demographics on race, gender identity, and socioeconomic status of arrested individuals compared to the general population.

II.  Reports on sex work and human trafficking published by Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundations, and Anti-Slavery International.

III.  Positives and negatives of changes to laws in Nevada, Rhode Island, Germany, Great Britain, and New Zealand.

IV.  Testimony from sex workers in various jurisdictions including whether and how the decriminalization of sex work would make their lives better.

4  Chairperson; Quorum.  The members of the study committee shall elect a chairperson from among the members.  The first meeting of the committee shall be called by the first-named house member.  The first meeting of the committee shall be held within 45 days of the effective date of this section.  Four members of the committee shall constitute a quorum.

5  Report.  The committee shall report its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the house clerk, the senate clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before November 1, 2017.

6  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.