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Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kansas Legislature taking up measure targeted at human trafficking

January 30, 2013

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— Since 2011, more than 25 states have passed laws that address human trafficking. And soon, Kansas may join that list.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a measure that would provide stricter laws on human trafficking.

Senate Bill 61 removes the word “prostitution” from existing laws and allows law enforcement to treat cases as human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation. The bill sets out harsher penalties for human trafficking and related crimes. It also modifies the way law enforcement treats and holds victims of human trafficking crimes.

SB 61 also reclassifies “promoting prostitution” to the sale of sexual relations and would be a felony. First-time offenders would be assessed fines of $2,500 to $5,000. Repeat offenders would be assessed fines of more than $5,000. The money from the fines will be funneled into the human trafficking victim assistance fund.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett and Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore testified in favor of this bill. There were no opponents and only one neutral testimony.

According to Schmidt’s written testimony, sex trafficking in Wichita has increased from nine cases in 2008 to 45 cases in 2011.

“This legislative package targets that class of offenders and provides additional tools for stakeholders who work with these victims to stop human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation,” Schmidt said.

Bennett said human trafficking cases are difficult to detect, investigate and even prosecute.

“The legislation proposed in SB 61 goes a long way to address these issues,” he said. “The training component alone would help ensure law enforcement across the state is exposed to the issues attendant to these cases.”

Though there was no opposition to SB 61 submitted or present at the meeting there was one neutral testimony given. The Kansas Association of Counties and Sedgwick County Department of Corrections Director Mark Masterson said they applaud the effort to curtail human trafficking but have concerns about funding.

“The current law provides that if a teenage human-trafficking victim runs away from a secure facility, the runaway can end up in a county juvenile-detention facility for up to 180 days,” Masterson said in written testimony. “The 180-day period does not include any state-provided treatment or funding from the state to cover the detention stay.”

Schmidt said the concept of human trafficking seems foreign to most Kansans but it is a major problem. Kansas is not the only state focusing on human trafficking. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, since 2011 more than 100 human trafficking bills have passed in more than 25 states.

The bill will be worked on by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Comments

Ken Lewis 1 year, 6 months ago

Prostitution and human trafficking are not synonymous. Given these changes, a woman that markets herself for prostitution would then defined as a trafficker. That doesn't make sense. Prositituiton is legal in Nevada. It makes no sense to make a felony out of it in KS. Human trafficking occurs only a in very small number of cases. This will just end up criminalizing a whole bunch more people. If I am not mistaken, KS prisons are already overfull....to the point that the State cannot pay the costs.

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Centerville 1 year, 6 months ago

There's human trafficking in the baby market. I'm glad we're recognizing it before it becomes surreptitiously accepted.

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andreainkansas 1 year, 6 months ago

News stories keep committing the same error in covering this legislation. SB61 does not change promoting prostitution to selling sexual relations - it changes promoting prostitution to promoting the sale of sexual relations. Prostitution is changed to selling sexual relations, and patronizing a prostitute would be changed to buying sexual relations.

None of these three renamed crimes equate to human trafficking. Kansas already has a statute on teh books since 2005 that defines the crime of human trafficking and aggravated human trafficking.

What SB 61 WOULD do is create an affirmative defense to a charge of the renamed crime of sexual sexual relations that would result in the charges dismissed if the defendant puts on sufficient evidence to demonstrate that she/he committed the acts of selling sexual relations (renamed from prostitution in the same bill) because he/she was subjected to a scheme of human trafficking or aggravated human trafficknig as defined in the criminal human trafficking statute (KSA 21-5426).

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andreainkansas 1 year, 6 months ago

It is quite necessary. Trafficking - both labor and sex - are much more prevalent in this state than most realize. The bill is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. I am not a republican, and I very often take issue with much of what the legislature does, but as someone who daily sees the destruction of human dignity and the correlated social and public health costs caused by human trafficking - both labor and sex, both domestic and international - I think this is one of the better endeavors of this year's legislative session.

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andreainkansas 1 year, 6 months ago

Most of SB 61 deals with how to place minor sex trafficking victims in protective custody and avail them to desperately needed services without having to charge them with crimes first. SB 61 changes the names of prostitution related offenses to better reflect the reality that not all "prostitution" is voluntary and mutually consensual. In fact, it is more likely to involve coercion than not. It does not increase the penalties for prostitution, it brings the penalty of buying sex up to the same level as selling sex. After all, even if we're dealing with a purely consensual prostitution situation and it's not trafficking, shouldn't buying sex be the same level of severity of offense as selling sex? It adds opportunities for affirmative defenses and expungement for folks charged or convicted with prostitution if they demonstrate that they were subjected to human trafficking, i.e. if there was force fraud or coercion involved. SB 61 is needed because while we have a criminal trafficking statute, that trafficking criminal statute only addresses the traffickers (the people "pimping" victims or forcing them into forced labor, debt peonage, indentured servitude, or commercial sex). Whether or not there's moral outrage from one party or another about the "morality" of prostitution and sexual behavior, trafficking is indeed a problem that should not be ignored. SB61 in no way ups the prosecution of prostitution - it creates much needed options for victims. It seeks to treat minors who have been sold for commercial sex as victims, not criminals.

I cannot express how often I disagree - and vehemently - with many of the state officials who support this legislation. But issues like human trafficking make for strange bedfellows. I may disagree with Republican legislators and Governor Brownback on 99% of everything else, but this is a good and needed bill. And if it's Brownback's religion that brought him to the anti-trafficking movement, that's OK. My liberal, progressive, feminist convictions brought me to the anti-trafficking movement.

Sometimes it's OK to work together on things with people you usually disagree with, folks.

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Ken Lewis 1 year, 6 months ago

Andrea, if you are a feminist as you say, dont you believe that a woman has the right to choose what she does with her own body? You cannot support the right to choose and then make a felony out of a prostitute. Doesn't fit. I dont believer for a minute that you like Brownback. You are just willing to use him to accomplished your own end.

Feminists are hypocrites who want thier right to choose (while calling it "sexual freedom"), which actually involves a human life instead of sexual freedom. But they vehemently dont want others to have a right too choose when the issue changes to something that DOES involve sexual freedom and DOES NOT involve a human life.

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Ken Lewis 1 year, 6 months ago

Oh, there was a case of adoption fraud in KS where they wanted to use human trafficking law....and should....but the law didn't apply because "looney right wingers" were too busy worrying about sex instead of considering all the means of human trafficking. The whole this is just another menas for the govt to get into your bedroom. That is what it is all about. And the supporters are mostly feminist women who want thier right too choose but dont want anyone else to be able to choose.

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Ken Lewis 1 year, 6 months ago

And making a felony out of consensual prostitution is definitely ramping it up. And that is what the article says.

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andreainkansas 1 year, 6 months ago

The article is inaccurate. Read the actual bill. Prostitution is not made a felony under SB 61. It remains a class B misdemeanor. Trafficking is a felony, and "prostitutes" aren't traffickers. Promoting the sale of sexual relations (promoting prostitution) would be a felony under SB 61. Again, a woman that's consensually selling sex is not committing promoting the sale of sexual relations either. She would be charged with the misdemeanor of selling sexual relations and SB 61 creates an affirmative defense that didn't exist before so that a woman who was coerced or forced into "prostitution" avoids prosecution for prostitution.

And while I think there are some cases of voluntary, consensual adult prostitution, when the average age of a woman entering prostitution is 13, how consensual was it really for her? Can she magically get out of the life upon turning 18? You're missing the point. This bill doesn't further criminalize the women selling sex. It recognizes that many of them aren't doing it by choice and creates judicial options that didn't exist before. Sure we could have a debate about decriminalizing prostitution, but that's not what's on the table at this poinit.

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jglee430 1 year, 5 months ago

Prostitution is NOT human trafficking. The word trafficking, according to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, is the trading, buying and selling of goods. If you sell a human like an animal, it is considered human trafficking. In prostitution, service is sold but no good is being sold. Children and persons who are forced to perform sexual services against their will are sex slaves. Let's call coerced sex for the purpose of profit by a third party is sexual slavery. Twisting of words to forward an agenda is morally wrong.

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jglee430 1 year, 5 months ago

Prostitution is a human mating ritual. Women married or date men with money to get ahead. These human trafficking bill makes it easier to catch consenting adults engaging in mating ritual. I have NOT find any operations that crack down on Sugar Baby/Sugar Daddy. By what I see, prostitution is decriminalized for the rich and powerful. The crack down is against middle and poor people. When the government beats competition, it drives up the cost of the illicit act. AFT got caught with Fast and Furious. There is a C-span video on YouTube that shows resident of LA were angry at the CIA for trafficking drugs. There are YouTube videos about the D.C. madam. What next? America has a "Young Goodman Brown" complex that could explode into a scandal at any time. Don’t believe in the US government. They make things worst at the end when they are at war against it.

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