Florida recently passed a state law requiring all licensed massage therapists to undergo mandatory criminal background checks and fingerprint checks. The intent of the law is to prevent crime, as human traffickers often use massage parlors as fronts for trafficking sex workers. The state intends to use the fingerprint checks to “ferret out” massage therapists with criminal backgrounds — human traffickers, and also those previously convicted of sexual battery, lewd and lascivious behavior, sexual assault, kidnapping, fraud, and other crimes — and suspend their licenses. State Rep. Dave Kerner sponsored this law last year, after reading about and hearing stories of scandals and problems with crime in the profession. Some massage therapists are not thrilled with the idea of these checks, because the licensing board already requires background checks, and doesn’t require the individuals to foot the costs of fingerprint checks. Many think the new law will not prevent crime as well as lawmakers are hoping, and think it’s a ploy by the state to get money from the therapists. Others think this law will benefit the public, and support the measure. “I think it’s a great idea. There are a lot of people practicing who have records, a lot of people practicing who don’t have licenses,” said massage therapist Bob Allen of South Beach, Fla. “If you have nothing to hide, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have it done.” The individual massage therapists would have to pay for the fingerprint checks themselves. One massage therapist says that being fingerprinted can cost between $80 and $120, and also requires the therapist to take time away from paying clients in order to complete these checks. Kerner described these checks as “an emergency order.” The law went into effect at the end of January.]]>
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