The problem with “crimes” like gambling, drug use, and prostitution is that there are no victims to file complaints with the police or testify against the perpetrator in a trial. So, to catch people engaged in these kinds of consensual activities, police resort to sleazy deceptive
sting entrapment tactics to trick people into doing something for which they can be arrested. In effect, police become complicit in creating the crime for which they ultimately arrest someone. This, by itself, makes the phrase “the land of the free” utterly ridiculous. But, going after consensual criminals is a big part of the criminal justice industry, so don’t expect it to end anytime soon.
Cops have long since figured out that real criminals hide and don’t commit their crimes where anyone can see. That makes them hard to catch. But, ordinary non-criminal people are everywhere and they don’t hide what they do because they don’t have any criminal intent. So, if their behavior can be criminalized, arrests would be easier and the assembly-line justice system can more easily be supplied with fresh bodies to prosecute and incarcerate.
Such is the case in New York City where, not only prostitution is illegal, but merely looking like some cops idea of a prostitute is cause for suspicion. Suspicion then becomes justification for a search. If condoms are found in the search, the cops can justify an arres based on the twisted logic that the person might commit prostitution in the future. This is referred to as “precrime” and was popularized in the movie, Minority Report.
Molly Crabapple has a few words about this practice:
Like most laughably cruel tricks of the justice system, you probably wouldn’t know that you could be arrested for carrying condoms until it happened to you.
But, it’s just an arrest. How bad can that be?
Arrest is always violent. The NYPD may or may not break your ribs, but the process of arrest in America is still a man tying your hands behind your back at gunpoint and locking you in a cage. Holding cells are shit-encrusted boxes, often too crowded to sit down. Police can leave you there for three days; long enough to lose your job. If this seems obvious, I say it because the polite middle classes trivialize arrest. They talk about “keeping people off the streets.” They don’t realize that the constant threat of arrest is traumatic, unless it happens to them or their kids.
This is not a legitimate function of a justice system in any free country. This is state sponsored persecution, plain and simple. Of course, historically, persecution is never recognized as such by the people doing it. As an adult, your sex life is your business and that applies even when sex is your business. The government should have no more control over you than they have over any other business (which, by most libertarian standards, is way too much).