Saturday, May 03, 2008

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, murdered by whom?

Oh, no -- I just heard that Deborah Jeane Palfrey (known as the DC Madam for the escort service she ran that included all sorts of noxious politicos on its client list) allegedly killed herself two weeks after being convicted by a federal jury (on April 15) of money laundering, using the mail for illegal purposes and racketeering. Her body was found near her mother's house in Tampa, Florida.

Palfrey had not yet been sentenced, but was facing up to 55 years in prison -- that's right, 55 years. She had already done a number of years in prison in the past, and struggled with current health problems, so apparently she thought about the possibility of death in prison or death at her own hands, and chose the option she had more control over. That is, unless one of her high-profile clients decided to take matters into his own hands.

This case is yet another example of the need for immediate decriminalization of prostitution -- in the short term, I'm wondering if anyone is planning some sort of political funeral or other type of festive direct action to call attention to this atrocity. Ideas?

Of course, Deborah Jeane Palfrey has gotten a lot more attention than most sex workers caught up in the violence of the criminal "justice" system, but that doesn't make her pointless death any less tragic.


Mark said...

I was so sad when I read the news. Full and immediate legalization, I agree. But I always think about what legalization of prostitution would ACTUALLY entail on the part of our government. Of course, I'm sure, every sex worker would have to publicly register and would be forced to undergo mandatory STD screenings to stay licensed. They probably would tax us up the ass, too. Any of the freedom and independence that sex work might bring would probably be a thing of the past. And considering all those that would choose to continue to work unlicensed, legality would end up being a moot point anyway....Anyway, Deborah Jean... 55 years...the tragedy is overwhelming. I'd like to see a political funeral, too. Or something...

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Mark, you're right that legalization would be a nightmare, as we can see in Nevada. That's why I'm in support of decriminalization -- here are some links that go a bit into decriminalization that I just snatched from Amber Rhea's blog (

I don't agree with everything in these discussions, but I think they do a good job of framing decriminalization versus legalization.

Love --