California to Vote on Harsher Punishment for Traffickers

In California, the 2012 election year brings a new opportunity for voters to improve trafficking laws with the CASE Act. The CASE Act, named for Californians Against Sexual Exploitation, is a partnership of California Against Slavery and Safer California Foundation which has been added to ballot after collecting more than 900,000 signatures.

The primary focus of the CASE Act is to increase punishments for traffickers.

If passed the CASE Act will strengthen the penalties against human traffickers and online predators. Sex trafficker will have to register as sex offenders and the police would be required the train on human trafficking (something which should already be in place nationwide). In addition, fines collected from convicted traffickers would be used to pay for recovery and rehabilitation services for survivors of sexual slavery. (Free the Slaves Blog, June 2012)

According to the FBI, San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are all ranked among the list of prime areas in the United States for child sex trafficking. (Free the Slaves Blog, June 2012)

 The importance of the CASE Act passing is not trivial. Currently the California laws are not strong enough to effectively combat human trafficking. When compared with federal law, California law appears much more lenient towards traffickers as the sentence for a convicted sex trafficker ranges from 3-8 years where federal law mandates a sentence of 15 years to life for the same crime. Where the California laws are weak, traffickers find a way to continue their horrendous crimes.
By increasing punishment for traffickers and online predators, California would be sending a message to these criminals that their actions will not be tolerated and will be met with harsh punishment. Additionally, required human trafficking training for the California police force would raise awareness and help police identify victims as many human trafficking victims are prostitutes who are treated as criminals rather than victims by police.

How do we know enforced anti-trafficking laws will reduce sex trafficking?

 According to a four-year study by the International Justice Mission in collaboration with the Gates Foundation, a 79% reduction in minor sex trafficking was found “when anti-trafficking laws are enforced by well-trained and equipped police and courts.” (insert link) The CASE Act would hopefully have a similar effect in the state of California.
As awareness is raised about the CASE Act and human trafficking, citizens and legislation nationwide should also be inspired to act. With California being one of the highest population states in the United States, the passing of this act would set an example for the rest of the nation.
To visit the online campaign, please visit One Million Strong Against Human Trafficking.

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