Last year, Shared Hope issued failing grades to over half the states for their legal provisions to protect America’s innocent against domestic minor sex trafficking. We challenged each state to raise their grade. They heard us! Taking this challenge head on, more than 30 states have introduced a total of 90 bills (and counting!) that will help combat human trafficking in their states. Kentucky and Louisiana have taken a notable lead in the movement to end human trafficking by introducing a package of Protected Innocence bills.
In Kentucky, 22 legislators are sponsoring HB 350 which will address more than 10 key components of the Protected Innocence legislative framework. If passed, this bill will expand provisions pertaining to asset forfeiture, will require human trafficking training for law enforcement, create a human trafficking fund, improve the definition of human trafficking to accurately identify victims, increase victim protections, establish a dedicated department within the police department for human trafficking investigations, and more. Kentucky received a “D” on the 2011 Protected Innocence Report Card—we commend the leaders championing this cause to raise the grade in Kentucky.
Louisiana continues taking aggressive action to combat child sex trafficking in the state. House Bill 49 addresses more than half of the legal components outlined in the Protected Innocence legislative framework. HB 49 contains 20 distinct provisions that would tighten the legal framework in this “C” state, including: increasing penalties for human trafficking, providing an affirmative defense, authorizing wiretaps, training law enforcement, providing victim restitution, requiring reporting of rescued children, allowing expungement of juvenile records, extending statutes of limitation, permitting policy decoys in investigation operations, preventing a consent defense, raising the penalty for buying sex with a minor to a $50,000 fine and 15–50 years in jail, establishing DMST victim eligibility for the crime victim’s compensation fund, removing prostitution from the definition of delinquent acts, and much, much more. If passed, Louisiana could emerge as one of the most dangerous places for those who buy and sell children for sex and raise the state’s grade even higher in the 2012 Protected Innocence Challenge.
We’re thrilled to see Shared Hope’s advocacy tools impacting change in states around the nation. Has your state taken the Protected Innocence Challenge?