I am writing to urge you to support Senate Bill 851, which contains important anti-human trafficking measures. Based on years of specialized research on domestic juvenile sex trafficking in the United States, the Protected Innocence Legislative Framework was designed by Shared Hope to establish a minimum legal fabric for the protection of children from sex trafficking and access to justice for those exploited.
On November 11, Shared Hope International released the annual report card for every state. Pennsylvania’s grade remains a “C”. I would like to see Pennsylvania continue to raise its grade. SB 851 is vital to combatting the sex trafficking of children and will help raise Pennsylvania’s grade because it:
- Establishes immunity for victims under the age of 18 from prostitution related offenses and expressly prohibits prosecution, detention, charges or fines. For minor victims, SB 851 also excludes other conduct commonly related to sexual exploitation from being considered as delinquent acts. These provisions are crucial, since it is counterproductive to permit prostituted children—trafficking victims—to also be charged and prosecuted for conduct caused by their victimization.
- Mandates that the Department of Human Service coordinate and provide comprehensive services to sex trafficking victims, such as education, housing, counseling, medical care, and life necessities. To break the cycle of exploitation, juvenile sex trafficking victims need access to ongoing multidisciplinary services and residential placement options. Statutory mandates are required to establish and financially support these programs and to treat domestic minor sex trafficking victims at all stages from intervention to restoration.
- Requires law enforcement to report suspected minor victims of sex trafficking to the Department of Human Services. Collaborative reporting between law enforcement and child welfare agencies helps to close gaps in communication and knowledge that interfere with identification of juvenile victims. Prompt interagency reporting facilitates juvenile victims’ access to comprehensive restorative services.
- Creates a fund to finance the provision of services for commercially sexually exploited children and educate buyers. Specialized services, placements and educational resources require funding for effective implementation and sustainability. Allocating a funding stream will promote restoration of victims while decreasing demand, thereby stemming the tide of future victimization.
This bill makes significant progress towards better equipping Pennsylvania to protect and serve commercially sexually exploited children.
Can I count on your support?
[City, State, ZIP]