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.