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Bill raises penalty for pursuing minor prostitutes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The state Assembly has passed legislation doubling county jail sentences for people convicted of soliciting child prostitutes, although it originally contained much harsher penalties.

AB1791 by Republican Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of San Diego heads to the Senate after Monday's 71-0 vote.

Maienschein says his bill provides a deterrent to child prostitution by increasing jail sentences to one year.

Before amendments, defendants originally would have faced up to life in state prison on human trafficking charges regardless of whether they knew the prostitute's age. Staff with the Assembly Public Safety Committee raised concerns about whether such a sentence would aggravate overcrowding in prisons.

The bill targets people who solicit underage prostitutes without follow-up sexual acts. Those who have sexual contact with minors still face state prison sentences if convicted.

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