On November 21st, Governor Patrick signed into law a House-Senate anti-human trafficking bill that is being hailed as one of the toughest laws of its kind in the nation.
The new law includes criminal sentences up to five years in prison for attempted human trafficking, up to 20 years for trafficking adults, and up to life imprisonment for the trafficking of minors. Businesses involved in trafficking would face up to a $1 million fine for the first offense, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years to a maximum of life for a second offense. These offenses also carry a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence.
The law also removes any statute of limitations for trafficking crimes and creates a 15-year criminal penalty for trafficking human organs, and it updates sex offender registration laws to include human trafficking and the enticement of a minor into prostitution through the use of electronic devices. Anyone convicted of these crimes would be required to register in Massachusetts as a sex offender.
To further protect and help victims, the law creates the “Victims of Human Trafficking Trust Fund” which will be funded from fines and convicted human traffickers’ forfeited assets. Additionally, items used in the commission of the crime (buildings, cars, boats, etc.) are subject to asset forfeiture with all of the proceeds going to the victims fund.
The legislation also:
- Establishes an Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, comprised of state officials, law enforcement, victims’ services organizations and trafficking victims to investigate and study rates of human trafficking, prevention, and the treatment of victims;
- Increases the penalty for soliciting a prostitute, and increases the penalty for soliciting sex from a person under 18;
- Allows defendants who are victims of human trafficking and charged with prostitution to establish a defense of duress or coercion;
- Establishes a “safe harbor provision” that allows the Commonwealth, defendant or court to request a hearing for a child arrested for prostitution to instead receive protection services;
- Requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide services to sexually exploited children and to immediately report to the district attorneys and the police any child the department believes to be a sexually exploited child;
- Amends the mandated reporting law so that mandated reporters, such as doctors, social workers, teachers and probation officers, must report to DCF when they have reasonable cause to believe that a child is sexually exploited;
- Establishes a process for victims of trafficking to bring civil actions; and
- Increases potential sentences for “Johns” to 2 ½ years in a house of correction and creates a mandatory $1,000 fine.
Demand Abolition: “Boston Sex Buyers Report”
New Report: “Targeting the Sex Buyer – The Swedish Example: Stopping Prostitution and Trafficking Where It All Begins”
Pioneer Valley Gets 300+ Posters This Week to Protest Valley Advocate Escort Ads (3/21/10)
NoPornNorthampton in conjunction with Our Voices Matter is putting up over 300 posters (download full-size PDF) throughout Pioneer Valley this week. Contact Daily Hampshire Gazette/Valley Advocate Publisher Jim Foudy and ask him to drop massage/escort ads from the Valley Advocate.