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New law increases penalties for prostitution near schools

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed into law a measure that targets people who solicit prostitutes near schools or parks.

The legislation makes it a misdemeanor to offer or agree to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of sexual conduct within 750 feet of a school or public park.

A misdemeanor comes with a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a $2,000 fine. 

Previously, the crime was considered a petty misdemeanor, with imprisonment up to 30 days and a mandatory $500 fine.

Rep. Karl Rhoads, a Democrat representing downtown Honolulu, said the bill sends a message that children and parents have a right to use public thoroughfares without being exposed to prostitutes, pimps and johns.

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