Shared Hope International http://sharedhope.org Leading a worldwide effort to eradicate sexual slavery...one life at a time Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:42:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Oregon’s First Federal Sentencing of Buyer Who Purchased Sex with Minor Results in Two Years in Prison http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/20/oregons-first-federal-sentencing-of-buyer-who-purchased-sex-with-minor-results-in-two-years-in-prison/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/20/oregons-first-federal-sentencing-of-buyer-who-purchased-sex-with-minor-results-in-two-years-in-prison/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 23:15:11 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9788 On November 19, 2014, Oregon issued its first federal sentence for a buyer of sex with a child. Ben Allen Riggs, 64, of Oregon City was sentenced in the District of Oregon under federal charges for transporting a person across state lines for purposes of engaging in prostitution – a federal offense under the Mann [...]

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On November 19, 2014, Oregon issued its first federal sentence for a buyer of sex with a child. Ben Allen Riggs, 64, of Oregon City was sentenced in the District of Oregon under federal charges for transporting a person across state lines for purposes of engaging in prostitution – a federal offense under the Mann Act. In this case, the person was a 14-year-old girl. The hearing decided Riggs’ penalty; but it further solidified a developing precedent that buyers of children must be held accountable for their actions by facing jail time.

Historically, buyers have not commonly faced full punishment under law, but research has shown (see Shared Hope International Amicus Brief) that serious punishment would be an effective deterrent. Therefore, buyers must face maximum sentencing to be held accountable for their crimes which drive the commercial sex market by making it a profitable industry.

Shared Hope International attended the sentencing hearing to show support and solidarity in prioritizing prosecution for those who purchase sex with children. Below is an inside account of the proceedings:

The defense attorney acknowledged that Riggs was guilty of transporting a person across state lines for the purpose of prostitution and deserved punishment for this crime; but argued that Riggs was unaware that the 14-year-old child victim was a minor and asserted that Riggs should not be held liable for engaging in sex with a minor. The defense attorney argued that Riggs is sincerely sorry for this crime and will “never purchase a prostitute again.” (Note: children cannot be “prostitutes;” they are always trafficking victims if used in commercial sex.) Many of Riggs’ family members and friends attended the hearing and submitted letters of support explaining the kindness and positive moral of Riggs. One of the letters stated “nobody has been a better friend than Mr. Riggs.” According to the defense, Riggs’ was raised by a mother who operated a brothel, which he left after his sister was brutally raped, contributing to his inability to engage in a healthy sexual relationship. This attributed to Riggs’ reliance on paid sex, a crime he admits to engaging in 20-30 times previously.

U.S. Attorney Stacie Beckerman clarified the horrible consequences of this crime and Riggs’ extreme lack of innocence in this case. She reminded the court of his history of purchasing sex on a regular basis, which showed intent in this case. He requested Laura Lambden (the victim’s trafficker) bring him a “young girl” to perform oral sex on him. When the victim arrived at his home Riggs engaged in sex acts with the 14-year-old- victim and took photos of those acts, which were later found on his phone. He made the excuse that had he not been drunk on “vodka and orange juice mixed with prescription drugs, he never would have made this mistake.” Beckerman countered that Riggs knew he requested Lambden “bring someone young,” knew the 14-year-old child victim was a minor, and paid to have sex with her and that the penalty needs to reflect the seriousness of the crime. She highlighted that this is the first federal case of a buyer who purchased sex with a minor in the District of Oregon, a crime that is receiving increased attention in courts across the nation, according to studies by Shared Hope International.

In summary, the judge concluded the victim made poor life choices before and after the crime. He asserted that based on psychosexual evaluations of the defendant, Riggs is not a pedophile and had successfully overcome many obstacles in his life from his horrible childhood to his career success in spite of continuous health problems. On the contrary, he acknowledged that Riggs asked Lambden to “bring someone young,” and that he did not turn the victim away when she showed up at the door. The judge’s final remarks , while citing victim-blaming evidence asserted by the defense (and unfortunately referring to the victim as a prostitute), nevertheless acknowledged the egregiousness of purchasing sex with a child:

“We understand that the prostitute was engaged in prostitution and that she would regularly accuse men of rape if they didn’t pay her and so on, but we cannot put the blame on her! You (Riggs) are an adult! As a grown adult, you do not purchase sex with a child…period! I sentence you to 2 years jail time, 5 years’ probation and you are to register as a sex offender…”

The prosecution asked that Riggs have no access to pornography of any kind. The defense argued that adult pornography is legal, but the judge cut the defense off with the remark “I do not want this man to ever get aroused again from pornography, so yes…he is prohibited.”

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Why Some State’s Stricter Laws are Creating a Threat of Trafficking for Others http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/states-stricter-laws-creating-threat-trafficking-others/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/states-stricter-laws-creating-threat-trafficking-others/#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:54:07 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9593 New Study by Shared Hope International Reveals One of America’s Greatest Threats Is Going Dangerously Unaddressed WASHINGTON, D.C., Child sex trafficking affects an estimated 100,000 American children each year. While many states have worked aggressively to combat the crime by strengthening state laws, several states have slipped dangerously behind the nation, according to a new [...]

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New Study by Shared Hope International Reveals One of America’s Greatest Threats Is Going Dangerously Unaddressed

WASHINGTON, D.C., Child sex trafficking affects an estimated 100,000 American children each year. While many states have worked aggressively to combat the crime by strengthening state laws, several states have slipped dangerously behind the nation, according to a new study by Shared Hope International.

The Protected Innocence Challenge, a report on the state of child sex trafficking laws in the U.S., found that four years of sweeping legislative advancements allowed 42 states to raise their grade. In 2014, 37 states enacted 123 bills regarding domestic minor sex trafficking, resulting in the improvement of eight state grades. Louisiana earned the highest score in the nation, a 96 per cent.

Pennsylvania, Colorado and Delaware enacted the greatest law changes, raising two grades.  View your state grade.

These improvements enable more aggressive investigation and prosecution, leaving traffickers searching for states with lower risk and greater tolerance. As neighboring states crack down, the only four remaining states with failing scores, California, Maine, Michigan and South Dakota, could become the next trafficking hotspot. Yet, the migration of trafficking activity may be more accurately linked to states with weak laws against buyers, those who fuel the trafficking industry by creating a profitable market for the crime. Two of America’s largest states, New York and California, are sorely lacking in this area and are at risk of becoming key trafficking destinations.

“While many states rose to the challenge and significantly strengthened laws to combat child sex trafficking, America’s most populous states are safety zones for predators,” Shared Hope International President and Founder Linda Smith said. “Failing to adequately address demand poses a significant threat to America’s children.”

The study found that buying sex with a minor is a felony in 50 states and in 49 states buyers could face human trafficking charges for their crime. However, many states struggle to enact laws that provide stricter penalties. California and New York are among 20 states that do not require a buyer to register as a sex offender if convicted of human trafficking. Buyers can benefit from a loophole in over 30 states that allows them to limit their liability by claiming they did not know the age of the victim.

Protected Innocence Challenge Press Conference

When:         
11:30 – 12:00 pm
Thursday, November 6, 2014
 
Where:
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center | HVC-201
First St SE
Washington, D.C. 20515
 

Watch the free livestream of the conference at sharedhope.org/events/event/2014-protected-innocence-challenge-press-conference/

Speakers:

  1. Congresswoman Linda Smith, President and Founder, Shared Hope International
  2. Jen Spry, RN, Sex Trafficking Survivor
  3. Margie Quin, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  4. Savannah Sanders, Author and Training Coordinator, O’Connor House Safe Action Project, Sex Trafficking Survivor
  5. Delegate Timothy D. Hugo, Fairfax (VA-40)

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Washington Named One of Three Toughest States Against Trafficking http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/washington-named-one-three-toughest-states-trafficking/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/washington-named-one-three-toughest-states-trafficking/#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:53:07 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9624 WASHINGTON, D.C., Washington’s laws pertaining to child sex trafficking were named some of the strongest in the nation, according to a new study by Shared Hope International. The Protected Innocence Challenge reports on the sufficiency of state laws relating to domestic minor sex trafficking. Washington earned a 92.5 per cent and is one of only [...]

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WASHINGTON, D.C., Washington’s laws pertaining to child sex trafficking were named some of the strongest in the nation, according to a new study by Shared Hope International. The Protected Innocence Challenge reports on the sufficiency of state laws relating to domestic minor sex trafficking. Washington earned a 92.5 per cent and is one of only three states in the nation with an “A” grade. Watch the release of the state grades.

Washington has consistently been at the forefront of enacting state laws that protect minor victims of domestic minor sex trafficking and bringing justice to those who have been exploited. Washington created the first state Task Force Against Trafficking of Persons in 2002. It was one of the earliest states to enact a state trafficking law in 2003. In 2007, Washington overhauled its laws criminalizing commercial sexual exploitation of children by removing these penalties from the prostitution context and clarifying that these are crimes of sexual exploitation. In 2013, Washington law enforcement called on the state to further strengthen laws to enable greater accountability for buyers of sex with minors. In response, Senator Mike Padden championed a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill that passed with unanimous bipartisan support that specifically addressed the criminalization of buyers by making the purchase or attempt to purchase sex with a minor for a commercial sex act a class B felony. Washington has the highest rate of felony convictions for buyers of sex acts with minors, based on data from four target sites in the Demanding Justice Project.  

“The alliance of law enforcement and legislators tackling sex trafficking from a policy and practice perspective is what enables Washington to develop some of the toughest laws in the nation,” President and Founder of Shared Hope International Linda Smith said. “The effort to crack down on trafficking must be informed and supported by the diverse array of key stakeholders. Washington learned that and is leading by example.”

The Protected Innocence Challenge was first conducted in 2011 and found 26 states earned failing scores. However, after four years of sweeping legislative advancements, 42 states have raised their grade. Three states, Louisiana, Tennessee and Washington, have earned “A” grades. Only nine states have not raised their grade since 2011 and California, Maine, Michigan and South Dakota are the only remaining states earning failing scores.

Previously, many states also relied on federal statues to address the crime. However, a majority of trafficking crimes were not being accepted for federal prosecution, forcing states to handle the cases locally and relying on weak or insufficient laws. The Protected Innocence Challenge was created to respond to this dynamic. The Challenge addresses key legislative gaps and makes recommendations for improvement so states can strengthen laws and implement effective state response.

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Absence of Critical Law Threatens Virginia’s Kids at Risk for Trafficking http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/absence-critical-law-threatens-virginias-kids-risk-trafficking/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/absence-critical-law-threatens-virginias-kids-risk-trafficking/#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:51:09 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9622 Why Some State’s Stricter Laws Are Creating a Threat of Trafficking for Others WASHINGTON, D.C. – Virginia is the only state in the nation that lacks a law against human trafficking for sexual exploitation, a crime that impacts an estimated 100,000 U.S. children each year. According to a new study by Shared Hope International, Virginia [...]

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Why Some State’s Stricter Laws Are Creating a Threat of Trafficking for Others

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Virginia is the only state in the nation that lacks a law against human trafficking for sexual exploitation, a crime that impacts an estimated 100,000 U.S. children each year. According to a new study by Shared Hope International, Virginia is one of seven least protective states for at-risk kids, based on the insufficiency of its anti-trafficking laws.

In May 2014, a Roanoke County Police officer pulled over a van after she noticed rocking and other abnormal behavior. She found 16 people inside, piled on top of each other, the van smelling of sweat and urine. The driver indicated the individuals inside believed they were being taken to get a job or a visa; instead, they had been sold for $200 each. The officer was unable to arrest the driver because Virginia does not have a specific human trafficking law and federal law enforcement agents were unavailable to help with the arrest.

Shared Hope International launched the Protected Innocence Challenge, an annual evaluation of the sufficiency of state laws that impact child sex trafficking, in 2011 to respond to this dynamic. Previously, many states relied on federal statutes to address the crime; yet, many trafficking crimes were not accepted for federal prosecution, forcing states to handle the cases locally and relying on weak or insufficient laws. The Protected Innocence Challenge aims to advocate for stronger state laws to activate the nearly 30,000 state prosecutors across the nation. Over half the nation earned failing scores on the inaugural 2011 report card. Since then, 42 states have raised their grade and today only 4 states are earning failing grades.

As states strengthen laws, enabling more aggressive investigation and prosecution, traffickers may be searching for states with lower risk and greater tolerance. Only six states earned a lower score than Virginia, one being neighboring district, Washington, D.C., making the area at greater risk of attracting human trafficking.

Delegate Tim Hugo (VA-40) will announce his plans to strengthen Virginia’s human trafficking laws and raise the grade at a press conference on November 6 at the Capitol Visitor Center. Watch livestream or attend.

“I believe there is no worse crime than one committed against a child,” Delegate Tim Hugo said. “As a father, I am dedicated to ensuring child sex traffickers remain behind bars longer for such horrific behavior, so that neither my children nor any child in Virginia falls prey to those who seek them harm.”

Additionally, Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf will receive Shared Hope’s Lifetime Pathbreaker Award for a lifetime dedication to eradicating trafficking. Congressman Wolf is one of the House of Representatives’ leading crusaders for human rights. He actively implored the Obama Administration to increase its efforts to combat child sex trafficking facilitated through online classified sites like Backpage.com. Rep. Wolf has historically supported increases for Victims of Trafficking grants to develop stronger programs for victims. 

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South Dakota at Risk of Becoming Trafficking Destination http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/south-dakota-risk-becoming-trafficking-destination/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/south-dakota-risk-becoming-trafficking-destination/#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:49:10 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9620 Why Some State’s Stricter Laws Are Creating a Threat of Trafficking for Others WASHINGTON, D.C., South Dakota’s laws pertaining to child sex trafficking were named some of the weakest in the nation, according to a new study by Shared Hope International. The Protected Innocence Challenge reports on the sufficiency of state laws relating to domestic [...]

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Why Some State’s Stricter Laws Are Creating a Threat of Trafficking for Others

WASHINGTON, D.C., South Dakota’s laws pertaining to child sex trafficking were named some of the weakest in the nation, according to a new study by Shared Hope International. The Protected Innocence Challenge reports on the sufficiency of state laws relating to domestic minor sex trafficking. South Dakota earned 58.5 per cent and is one of only four states in the nation with a failing score. Watch livestream or attend. 

The study was first conducted in 2011 and found 26 states earned failing scores. However, after four years of sweeping legislative advancements, 42 states have raised their grade. Three states, Louisiana, Tennessee and Washington, have earned “A” grades. Only nine states have not raised their grade since 2011 and California, Maine, Michigan and South Dakota are the only remaining states earning failing scores. As states strengthen laws, enabling more aggressive investigation and prosecution; traffickers may be searching for states with lower risk and greater tolerance. Growing concerns that these inactive states are at risk of attracting trafficking crimes from neighboring states with stronger laws are serious.

South Dakota is surrounded by fracking operations in three bordering states, contributing to an influx of transient workers in the area. Increasing the population of men who could be commercial sex consumers, compounded by weak state laws to deter the crime could entice traffickers to the region to meet the demand for this illicit business. 

South Dakota has strong federal leadership under U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, a 2014 Shared Hope International Pathbreaker Award Recipient for his dedication to anti-trafficking efforts. U.S. Attorney Johnson has overseen the prosecution of more than 25 human trafficking cases in five years, including three life-sentences and the federal prosecution of numerous men who attempted to purchase sex from trafficking victims. His office pursued the case of United States v. Jungers through the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, securing the critical decision that buyers of sex acts with minors are committing crimes of sex trafficking under the federal law, upping the risk of such activity by those who drive the sex trafficking markets.

The strength of South Dakota’s ability to adequately respond to trafficking crimes is currently contingent on federal leadership, and is conditional on the continued investment and political will of federal leadership. The Protected Innocence Challenge was created to respond to this dynamic. Previously, many states also relied on federal statues to address the crime. However, a majority of trafficking crimes were not being accepted for federal prosecution, forcing states to handle the cases locally and relying on weak or insufficient laws. The Challenge addresses key legislative gaps and makes recommendations for improvement so states can strengthen laws and implement effective state response.

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Is Oregon Finally out of Sex Trafficking Hotseat? http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/oregon-finally-sex-trafficking-hotseat/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/oregon-finally-sex-trafficking-hotseat/#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:47:24 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9617 A New Study by Shared Hope International Shows Oregon’s Efforts May be Paying Off WASHINGTON, D.C., Portland is believed to have the highest rate of strip clubs per capita and has been dubbed “Pornland,” but a new study by Shared Hope International shows Oregon’s effort to crack down on trafficking may be paying off. According [...]

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A New Study by Shared Hope International Shows Oregon’s Efforts May be Paying Off

WASHINGTON, D.C., Portland is believed to have the highest rate of strip clubs per capita and has been dubbed “Pornland,” but a new study by Shared Hope International shows Oregon’s effort to crack down on trafficking may be paying off.

According to the Protected Innocence Challenge, a report on the sufficiency of state laws relating to domestic minor sex trafficking in the U.S., Oregon raised its grade from a “D” to a “B” in 2013 with continuing efforts to strengthen state laws. Watch the release of the state grades.

Historically, Oregon’s efforts to strengthen anti-trafficking laws paled in comparison to neighboring Washington. Washington created the first state Task Force Against Trafficking of Persons, enacted one of the first state trafficking laws, and in 2007 Washington overhauled its laws criminalizing commercial sexual exploitation of children by removing these penalties from the prostitution context and clarifying that these are crimes of sexual exploitation. As Washington strengthened its laws, enabling more aggressive investigation and prosecution traffickers went searching for states with lower risk and greater tolerance, putting Oregon at risk of attracting Washington’s trafficking market.

Prior to 2013, Oregon law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies’ proactive engagement in anti-demand efforts were impacted by weak state laws that failed to adequately penalize buyers, individuals who purchase sex acts from minors and fuel the sex trafficking industry by making it a profitable market. Previously, the crime of “purchasing sex with a minor” (ORS 163.413) was only a misdemeanor offense. This posed significant challenges for law enforcement agencies in substantiating the deployment of limited law enforcement resources to identify and investigate buyers who would only be charged with a misdemeanor. The District Attorney’s Office received a limited number of buyer cases for prosecution. While the agency worked creatively within existing laws to bring charges that would carry significant penalties to buyers, buyers were not charged with “sex trafficking.” By not charging buyers under sex trafficking laws, the scope of the crime could not be accurately measured, buyers were at risk of receiving lighter penalties for peripheral crimes, and victims may have faced barriers to accessing crime victim protections. 

However, in 2013, thanks to the support of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the Oregon District Attorney’s Association, the Portland Police Bureau, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, and law enforcement agencies across the state, the Oregon Legislature passed a new law that elevated the crime of purchasing sex with a minor to a felony. Under the new law, the Portland Police Bureau has conducted proactive sting operations to identify buyers seeking to purchase sex with a minor and to hold buyers accountable through felony prosecutions. 

While Oregon made significant strides to enact stronger penalties, the state now faces the challenge of implementation. According to Shared Hope International’s Demanding Justice report, a study on buyer penalties in four target sites, over a quarter of Portland buyer cases concluded with a dismissal. Portland had the highest rate (62.5%) of cases that concluded with a buyer of sex acts with a minor receiving a misdemeanor conviction, a stark contrast from Seattle which has the highest rate of felony convictions for buyers of the four target sites. The data from Portland highlights the importance of strengthening state laws and enforcing them to the fullest extent of the law

The Protected Innocence Challenge was first conducted in 2011 and found 26 states earned failing scores. However, after four years of sweeping legislative advancements, 42 states have raised their grade. Three states, Louisiana, Tennessee and Washington, have earned “A” grades. Only nine states have not raised their grade since 2011 and California, Maine, Michigan and South Dakota are the only remaining states earning failing scores. 

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Louisiana Named Top in Nation for Strong Child Sex Trafficking Laws in National Study http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/louisiana-named-top-nation-strong-child-sex-trafficking-laws-national-study/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/louisiana-named-top-nation-strong-child-sex-trafficking-laws-national-study/#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:43:30 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9615 Louisiana Overtakes Tennessee for Top Spot on Child Sex Trafficking Study  WASHINGTON, D.C., Louisiana has been named the top state in the nation for its laws against child sex trafficking, according to a study released by anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope International. The 2014 Protected Innocence Challenge marks the fourth year Shared Hope has analyzed and [...]

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Louisiana Overtakes Tennessee for Top Spot on Child Sex Trafficking Study 

WASHINGTON, D.C., Louisiana has been named the top state in the nation for its laws against child sex trafficking, according to a study released by anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope International. The 2014 Protected Innocence Challenge marks the fourth year Shared Hope has analyzed and graded every state on its laws that pertain to domestic minor sex trafficking. Louisiana joined Washington and Tennessee as the only three states in the nation to earn an “A” on the 2013 Protected Innocence Challenge.

Watch livestream or attend. 

In 2011, the first year Report Cards were released, Louisiana was barely average, earning a mere 70 percent. After three years of substantial legislative advancements, Louisiana ranks first in the nation with a 96 per cent, earning a perfect score in five of six categories.

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Louisiana improved 26 points from 70  points in 2011 to 96  points in 2014
  2. States were scored based on six categories of law. Scores by area of law:
  3. Section 1 (Criminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking): LA- 10 (10 points possible)
  4. Section 2 (Criminal Provisions Addressing Demand: LA- 25 (25 points possible)
  5. Section 3 (Criminal Provisions for Traffickers): LA- 15 (15 points possible)
  6. Section 4 (Criminal Provisions for Facilitators: LA- 10 (10 points possible)
  7. Section 5 (Protected Provisions for Child Victims: LA- 21 (27.5 points possible)
  8. Section 6 (Criminal Justice Tools for Investigation and Prosecution): LA- 15 (15 points possible)

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Florida’s Steady Climb to the Top for Strongest Laws Against Trafficking http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/floridas-steady-climb-top-strongest-laws-trafficking/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/floridas-steady-climb-top-strongest-laws-trafficking/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:40:42 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9612 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Child sex trafficking affects an estimated 100,000 American children each year in the U.S. but Florida is fighting back. Florida improved its laws to address child sex trafficking every year since 2011. Today, anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope International released its fourth annual study on the state of child sex trafficking laws in [...]

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Child sex trafficking affects an estimated 100,000 American children each year in the U.S. but Florida is fighting back. Florida improved its laws to address child sex trafficking every year since 2011. Today, anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope International released its fourth annual study on the state of child sex trafficking laws in America. The research found that Florida scored an 87.5 per cent on the report, up from 71.5 per cent in 2011. The improvements in Florida’s law reflect the commitment of key stakeholders in addressing the issue.  Watch the release of the state grades.

“Florida is determined to end the trafficking of our kids,” Representative Gayle Harrell (FL-83) said.  “Shared Hope’s report card for Florida provides guidance to help keep us on track with keeping our kids safe from the predators who seek to steal their innocence.  We will be examining the report carefully and introducing legislation to make our laws even stronger.”

While Florida has made substantial law changes in four years, the state has more work to do. Earning nearly a perfect score on most categories of the assessment, Florida must strengthen criminal provisions addressing demand and protective provisions for child victims. Florida’s human trafficking statute provides substantial penalties for buyers, individuals who purchase sex acts from minors and fuel the sex trafficking industry by making it a profitable market. However, in a recent study by Shared Hope International which documented criminal justice outcomes for buyers of sex acts with minors in four target site locations, no buyers were convicted under state sex trafficking laws. Florida offers other applicable laws for buyers, including “Lewd or lascivious battery” which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison but only if the minor is younger than 16. Buyers who purchase sex with 16 or 17-year-old minors only face up to 60 days in prison under Florida’s “patronizing a prostitute” statute, failing to protect victims and deter those who seek to purchase sex with minors.

The Protected Innocence Challenge was first conducted in 2011 and found 26 states earned failing scores. However, after four years of sweeping legislative advancements, 42 states have raised their grade. Three states, Louisiana, Tennessee and Washington, have earned “A” grades. Only nine states have not raised their grade since 2011 and California, Maine, Michigan and South Dakota are the only remaining states earning failing scores. 

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Unlikely Duo Spurs Colorado to Strengthen Trafficking Laws http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/unlikely-duo-spurs-colorado-strengthen-trafficking-laws/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/06/unlikely-duo-spurs-colorado-strengthen-trafficking-laws/#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:22:24 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9610 WASHINGTON, D.C., Child sex trafficking affects an estimated 100,000 American children each year in the U.S. This staggering statistic may be one of the few that could cause political adversaries to become issue allies. Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian ministry, was inspired by an interview with Shared Hope International [...]

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WASHINGTON, D.C., Child sex trafficking affects an estimated 100,000 American children each year in the U.S. This staggering statistic may be one of the few that could cause political adversaries to become issue allies. Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian ministry, was inspired by an interview with Shared Hope International on the issue of sex trafficking and decided to team up with Ted Trimpa, president of Trimpa Group LLC, a Democratic political consulting and government relations firm specializing in progressive policy advocacy, to advocate for stronger human trafficking laws. 

The pair was able to successfully advocate for the passage of House Bill 1273, which makes it easier to prosecute offenders, strengthens penalties for human trafficking convictions and creates a council within the Department of Public Safety to address the problem. This new law resulted in a significant score increase for Colorado on an annual report by Shared Hope International that grades each state on the sufficiency of its laws that relate to sex trafficking. In 2014, Colorado raised its grade from a “D” to “B” and is one of only three states in the nation to improve its score so significantly to raise two grade levels. Colorado earned 13 points for improvements in all six areas of evaluation, including criminalization of domestic minor sex trafficking, criminal provisions for traffickers, buyers and facilitators, protective provisions for child victims, and criminal justice tools for investigation and prosecution. Watch the release of the state grades.

“Americans may hold different ideas on many issues, but sex trafficking is an issue that crosses party lines, religious affiliations and gender divides,” President and Founder of Shared Hope International Linda Smith said. “No one wants to see a predator get away with stealing the innocence of our kids.

Shared Hope International launched the Protected Innocence Challenge in 2011 to advocate for stronger state laws to activate the nearly 30,000 state prosecutors across the nation. Previously, many states relied on federal statutes to address the crime; yet, many trafficking crimes were not accepted for federal prosecution, forcing states to handle the cases locally and relying on weak or insufficient laws. Over half the nation earned failing scores on the inaugural 2011 report card. Since then, 42 states have raised their grade and today only 4 states are earning failing grades. 

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2014 State Grades on Child Sex Trafficking Laws Exposes Growing Gap Between States http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/03/2014-state-grades-on-child-sex-trafficking-laws-exposes-growing-gap-between-states/ http://sharedhope.org/2014/11/03/2014-state-grades-on-child-sex-trafficking-laws-exposes-growing-gap-between-states/#respond Mon, 03 Nov 2014 17:56:17 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=9471 The post 2014 State Grades on Child Sex Trafficking Laws Exposes Growing Gap Between States appeared first on Shared Hope International.

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Media Contacts: Taryn Offenbacher, 602.818.3955, Taryn@sharedhope.org

***MEDIA ALERT***

2014 State Grades on Child Sex Trafficking Laws Exposes Growing Gap Between States

October 29, 2014 (Washington D.C.) On November 6, in Washington, D.C., Shared Hope International will release the 4th Annual Protected Innocence Challenge—the most comprehensive study on state child sex trafficking laws. The findings will reveal which states are providing strong legal protection against trafficking and which states are falling behind their neighbors. This year, eight states have raised the grade but four states continue to receive failing scores.

Protected Innocence Challenge Press Conference

When:
11:30 – 12:00 pm Thursday, November 6, 2014

Where:
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center | HVC-201 First St SE Washington, D.C. 20515

Watch the free livestream of the conference at www.sharedhope.org/pressconference Speakers:

  1. Congresswoman Linda Smith, President and Founder, Shared Hope International
  2. Jen Spry, RN, Sex Trafficking Survivor
  3. Margie Quin, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  4. Savannah Sanders, Author and Training Coordinator, O’Connor House Safe Action Project, Sex Trafficking Survivor
  5. Delegate Timothy D. Hugo, Fairfax (VA-40)

MEDIA CONTACT: Taryn Offenbacher | Communications Director 703.351.8062 office / 602.818.3955 cell Taryn@sharedhope.org MEDIA MATERIALS For media convenience, a variety of video clips and resources, including survivor comments, are available at this location: http://vimeo.com/user12564384/albums. Clips are password protected, please contact Taryn Offenbacher at Taryn@sharedhope.org for access.

ABOUT SHARED HOPE INTERNATIONAL: Shared Hope International was established in 1998, by former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith, to prevent, restore, and bring justice to women and children in crisis. We provide leadership in awareness, training, prevention strategies, restorative care, research, and policy initiatives. For more information about Shared Hope International, go to www.sharedhope.org

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The post 2014 State Grades on Child Sex Trafficking Laws Exposes Growing Gap Between States appeared first on Shared Hope International.

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