Loophole Lets Rhode Island Prostitutes Work Indoors

As a result of a poorly worded rewrite of their vice laws, prostitution is illegal in Rhode Island– but only outdoors.

Loophole Lets R.I. Prostitutes Work Indoors (AP)

Sex is for sale in the state capital, and police here say there’s little they can do about it. Although soliciting sexual favors on the street is illegal in Rhode Island, authorities say a loophole in state law allows prostitution behind closed doors — including in storefronts that advertise as massage parlors and spas just blocks from City Hall. “We don’t have a law criminalizing prostitution indoors,” said Providence Police Lt. Thomas Verdi, who leads the department’s anti-prostitution efforts.

Police and city officials have pushed for legislation to toughen anti-prostitution laws, although some say adding more laws to punish prostitutes is unnecessary. State law prohibits loitering for the purpose of prostitution, as well as harboring or transporting prostitutes. But the sale of sex indoors is not specifically banned.


Of course, I suspect Rhode Island will survive. Indeed, it’s not clear why the sale of sex indoors should be specifically banned. Coercive sex? Of course. White slavery? Absolutely. Soliciting on public streets? Probably. But consensual private commerce?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DL says:

    Another state in which Bill will set up a branch office.