Human Trafficking. Penalties.
- Pros & Cons -
Human Trafficking. Penalties.
Should the definition of human trafficking be expanded, penalties for traffickers be increased, convicted sexual traffickers be required to register as sex offenders, and additional training for law enforcement officers be required?
Current law defines two forms of human trafficking: in one, coercion or fraud is used to obtain forced labor, in the other it is used to induce commercial sex acts. Maximum sentences for sex trafficking vary with factors such as the age of the victim, or whether serious injury results.
Law enforcement officers doing investigative work sometimes have to determine whether a situation involves human trafficking, identify a person or persons as victims, and respond appropriately. Currently, training for such work is optional. Some departments have offered it, in some cases with federal help.
Convicted sex offenders are required to register with their local law enforcement departments. This requirement does not automatically include convicted sex traffickers.
Proposition 35 would significantly increase fines and prison terms for human trafficking. Examples include raising the maximum prison term for labor trafficking from five years to twelve; raising it for forced sex trafficking of an adult from five years to twenty and for that of a child from eight years to life. Maximum fines would rise from one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) to one and a half million dollars ($1,500,000).
Prop 35 would expand the definition of sex trafficking. For example, it would include such behavior as distributing or duplicating obscene matter depicting a child; this would not require any contact between the “trafficker” and the child. Convicted sexual traffickers would be required to register as sex offenders, reporting to local law enforcement entities. They, and all registered sex offenders, would have to report detailed information about their internet access: their servers, screen names, user identities, and more.
Law enforcement officers engaged in field work or investigation would have to complete a two-hour training course, to help in identifying victims in ambiguous situations.
Some court procedures and rules of evidence would change. Evidence of involvement in sexual acts caused by human trafficking could not be used to prosecute the victim. Nor could it be used in court to challenge the victim’s credibility.
Seventy percent of revenues collected from fines imposed by Prop 35 would go to agencies and non-profit groups providing direct services to victims. Thirty percent would be used for trafficking prevention, witness protection, and rescue operations.
State and local annual costs are estimated at a couple of million dollars: longer sentences would increase prison population, and state and local costs would rise if arrests increased. Revenues would be allocated to victims’ services, and would not offset costs.
Longer prison sentences and larger fines for committing human trafficking crimes.
Existing criminal penalties for human trafficking would stay in effect.
- We need stronger laws to deter human traffickers and online predators from exploiting vulnerable individuals.
- We need to identify victims, protect their rights, and help them access necessary services.
- Prop 35 is badly drafted; it could have a detrimental effect on the state budget without reducing human trafficking.
- Prop 35 threatens civil rights and privacy rights.