Jul 28, 2014

Should Human Traffickers Face Tougher Penalties?

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe supports the 'Stop Human Trafficking' measure on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot.

Should Human Traffickers Face Tougher Penalties? Should Human Traffickers Face Tougher Penalties? Should Human Traffickers Face Tougher Penalties?

Slated for the November 2012 ballot, Proposition 35 is an initiative intended to fight back against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children in the state.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffed has endorsed Proposition 35.

“While [human trafficking] isn’t an epidemic in San Mateo County, other counties like San Francisco and Alameda face this problem,” Wagstaffe said. “This initiative will elevate the punishment to the level it deserves.” 

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen also strongly endorsed the measure, saying, “We need Prop. 35 in California, an initiative that helps district attorneys like myself and law enforcement fight human trafficking and sexual exploitation in our state. Santa Clara County is leading the way locally in fighting these crimes, but we need the tougher penalties that Prop 35 puts in place to get human traffickers off the streets and away from preying on women and children on the  Internet.”   

Rosen joins district attorneys Jan Scully (Sacramento County), Dean Flippo (Monterey County), Nancy O’Malley (Alameda County), Michael Ramos (San Bernardino County), Lisa S. Green (Kern County), and Birgit Fladager (Stanislaus County) in supporting Proposition 35. Proposition 35 has been endorsed by organizations that provide services to and advocate for victims of human trafficking.

Three cities in California – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego – are recognized by the FBI as high-intensity child sex trafficking areas, according to the proposition's proponents.       

Proposition 35, a partnership of California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation, would:

  • Increase prison terms for human traffickers.
  • Require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders.
  • Require all registered sex offenders to disclose their Internet accounts.
  • Require criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims.

Opponents include the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational and Research Project (ESPLERP), who say Proposition 35, as written, would increase the risks to trafficked people and "wrongly expand the definition of trafficking to include many entirely consensual adult sexual activities."

They argue that anyone receiving financial support from normal, consensual prostitution among adults could be prosecuted as a human trafficker; this includes a sex worker’s children, parents, spouse, domestic partner, roommate, landlord, or others. And if convicted they would be forced to register as a sex offender for life.

The San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News have endorsed Prop. 35, while the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times have urged voters to vote No on 35. 

How are you voting on Proposition 35? Tell us why in the comments. 

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