So why is prostitution prohibited in most of the U.S. and some other countries? Advocates might argue prohibition reduces the incidence of prostitution, but this claim is implausible. The Yellow Pages in every major city contain large sections devoted to “escort” services, and no one doubts that many supply prostitution. Police make many arrests for prostitution, but these produce little jail time or other serious penalty.
The more likely reason the U.S. and some other societies ban prostitution is deference to religious or moral views. Even those who share these views should recognize that promoting them via government bans is costly.