Combating Human Trafficking in PA

2015 Safe Harbor Legislation introduced by Senators Leach and Greenleaf

Villanova Law Institute to address Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Main Objectives of Safe Harbor: 

  1. Provide full immunity for prostitution and proxy offenses if the individual is under 18 years of age, by amending criminal prostitution and juvenile delinquency statutes.
  2. Refer victims to voluntary victim services, rather than diverting into the mandatory custody of child protective services.
  3. Develop specialized victim services programs in order to meet the specific needs of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, including but not limited to:
    1. Safe supportive and stable housing, with comprehensive on-site case management;
    2. Integrated mental health and chemical dependency service, including specialized trauma recovery services;
    3. Education, employment, and life skills training performed on-site; and
    4. Referrals to off-site specialized services, as appropriate.
  4. Assign a state agency or create a position within a state agency to oversee implementation and enforcement of this Act, including the creation of statewide protocols.
  5. Enhance penalties for promoters (traffickers), facilitators, and patrons of prostitution wherein the victim was under 18 years of age, to fund victim services.
  6. Mandate law enforcement training (curriculum, regulation, and requirements).
  7. Create a statewide public awareness campaign to raise awareness of commercial sexual exploitation of children in order to shift the public perceptions of “child prostitution” and related offenses.

Victory! Act 105  (a.k.a. Senate Bill 75) was signed into law by the governor on July 2, 2014. The law went into effect on September 2nd.

This Act Amends the Pa Consolidated Statutes, extensively revising the law on HT in prosecution, prevention, classification of offenses, victim services and victim protection during prosecution including confidentiality.

Significant subchapters of the law include:

  • Prior to Act 105, PA law only vaguely defined labor trafficking, not sex trafficking.
  • This new statute specifically outlines the crime of sex trafficking; Giving us Pa’s first comprehensive legal definition of human trafficking.
  • A person commits a felony of the 2nd degree for trafficking, and a felony of the 1st degree if a person engages in trafficking of a minor (under 18). Also, felony of the 1st degree for involuntary servitude.
  • A person patronizing a victim commits a felony of the 2nd degree, if they engage in conduct with another knowing they are a victim of HT.
  • A person commits a felony of the 3rd degree if they destroy, remove, or confiscate a gov’t document to restrict movement.
  • Asset forfeiture, victim protection and restitution are outlined
  • An opportunity to vacate convictions that are a result of being a victim is provided.
  • Anyone convicted in cases where victim is minor must register under Megan’s Law

 

Currently, PA’s Act 105 Implementation Work Group is organizing to provide for

Logistics, Public Awareness, Victim Services, Trainings, Data collection, Legal Research and Technical Assistance to the courts and attorneys; and is exploring funding sources for implementations efforts. Please call my office at 610-768-4200 if you would like to get involved or have additional questions.

 

Human Trafficking Background

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. Traffickers reap billions in profits by using force, fraud or coercion to rob victims of their freedom through labor or commercial sex. And while experts estimate that there are a minimum of approximately 5,100 to 60,500 people trafficked into and within the U.S. each year, there are thousands of U.S. citizens trafficked within our borders, including an estimated 100,000 American children who are prostituted within the U.S. each year — a brutal form of human trafficking.

In Pennsylvania, victims of sex and labor trafficking include U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, minors and adults.

PA is a “Pass-Through” State as well as a Destination for Human Trafficking.  In addition to commercial front businesses and agricultural operations, traffickers utilize the many highways of the state to move victims between trafficking hotspots in Ohio, New Jersey and New York, and to connect with the I-95 corridor in which victims are moved along the Eastern Seaboard from New York to Maryland, DC, Georgia and Florida. In Pennsylvania, truck stops, especially those along the “Miracle Mile” are known for playing host to sex trafficking.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Hotline

Pennsylvania Hotline Calls:

(National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 888-3737-888) From December 2007 to July 2010 the NHTRC Hotline received just 291 calls from Pennsylvania out of 20,616 calls nationally. New York had 721 calls and Ohio had 345 over roughly the same time period. Ohio law enforcement posted the hotline in more than 300 rest areas and truck stops throughout the state during 2010 and the hotline is advertised on the NYC non-emergency line – likely leading to the increase in calls.

Precedent for Posting:

Several states have enacted similar legislation, including Maryland, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Texas was the first (2007), and more than 35,000 establishments now post the hotline sign. The state consistently has the greatest number of calls to the hotline.

Enforcement and Cost:

Enforcement of the required posting is complaint driven and conducted by the agency that oversees the entity, similar to the current smoking law. The sign will be available on the Department of Labor and Industry’s website, at no cost to the state.

 

IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IS A VICTIM OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING PLEASE CALL THE NHTRC HOTLINE AT 1-888-373-7888

Last updated: August 16, 2016 at 11:21 am