SC lawmaker wants tougher prostitution penalties

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A Columbia lawmaker wants to crack down on the world's oldest profession.

Particularly for those seeking the services of a prostitute.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Friday that Columbia Rep. Leon Howard has proposed sharply increasing the penalties for soliciting prostitutes. Howard's bill would make a third offense a felony, with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Howard says the bill would reduce a problem that ties up police and contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Currently soliciting a prostitute is a misdemeanor with a penalty of 30 days in jail or a $200 fine. A third offense raises the fine to $3,000 and at least a year in prison.

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