Is Sex Work Decriminalization the Answer? What the Research Tells Us

Document Date: October 16, 2020

The ACLU’s Research Brief, “Is Sex Work Decriminalization the Answer? What the Research Tells Us,” reviews existing empirical research on the impacts of decriminalization — and conversely criminalization — of sex work to inform recommendations for policy and practice. The ACLU has a history of supporting the decriminalization of sex work, but as efforts for U.S. legislative reform at the local, state, and federal level grow, examining the potential impacts of proposed policies is critical. Developed in consultation with local affiliates and sex worker organizers, this Brief provides an assessment of the growing evidence base on the potential benefits and harms of the decriminalization of consensual sex work (including buyer-only criminalization and full criminalization) and concludes with specific recommendations for policymakers, law enforcement, advocates, and researchers.