- 17th District
- Issues & Resources
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.
State Legislative Action
In 2012, a human trafficking bill I teamed up with Representative Clymer to introduce was signed into law. The new law requires posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline (1-888-373-7888) in strategic locations in PA where victims and potential tipsters are most likely to see it. The hotline provides a bridge to help for victims of human trafficking, an outlet for tipsters and vital resources including training to the public, law enforcement and first responders.
An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in public indecency, further providing for the offense of prostitution and related offenses; and, in juvenile matters, further providing for short title and purposes of chapter, for definitions, and for informal adjustment; adding provisions relating to safe harbor for sexually exploited children; and establishing the Sexually Exploited Children Special Fund.
Prime Sponsor: Senator Leach
Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children
- Creates a special fund for Sexually Exploited Children to be used to help provide much needed services to this vulnerable population, including housing, education, medical care, mental healthcare, and case management.
- The special fund will be financed by imposing mandatory fines on those who are creating the demand for commercial sex that leads to exploitation of vulnerable persons, especially young girls & women.
- Requires the Department of Public Welfare to help coordinate the delivery of services to sexually exploited children.
- Establishes a diversion program for sexually exploited children so that instead of being prosecuted as delinquents these children will be treated as a dependent child in need of services so that they can get the appropriate care they need and deserve.
Child Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in world.
- Human trafficking generates over $32 billion in profits annually.
- Experts estimate that as many as 300,000 American children are at risk for sexual exploitation every year.
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 100,000 U.S. children are exploited thru prostitution every year.
- From 1992 to 2009 FBI arrest data shows that between 1,200 and 1,600 children were arrested yearly for prostitution-related offenses.
- Children who are victims of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation are often arrested on other status offenses, including violations for curfew, loitering, and trespassing laws which is not adequately reflected in the arrest data for prostitution.
- About Pimps/Trafficker Tactics: Pimps and traffickers target children with low self-esteem who often come from broken families or have past childhood trauma. After the pimp or trafficker earns their trust they will engage in physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse of the child. The effect is to psychologically and emotionally break the child so that he or she becomes completely dependent on their abuser. Psychologists and Clinicians call this phenomenon “Traumatic Bonding,” which results in misplaced loyalty as found in situations of exploitative cults, incestuous families, or in hostage or kidnapping situations.
- As a result of this traumatic bonding, child sex trafficking victims rarely self-identify and consequently deny having a pimp or trafficker.
- Other child victims of commercial sexual exploitation often turn to commercial sex out of desperation for food, money, or a place to stay. They usually are runaways from broken homes where they have been beaten, raped, or tortured by unfit parents or guardians.
- These children are victims, not criminals, and deserve the protection of the child welfare system, not re-victimization and incarceration in the juvenile justice system.
- In order to effectively break the ties between sexually exploited children and their traffickers, the system must do a better job at (1) identifying sex trafficked children, (2) treating them with care and compassion, and (3) providing them with the services and resources necessary for them to break the traumatic bond with their pimp.
- By enacting Safe Harbor legislation, not only are we protecting our children and allowing them to heal from their victimization, but we are also putting them in the best position to help law enforcement and prosecutors target pimps and traffickers.
An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, extensively revising the law on human trafficking in the areas of prosecution, prevention, victim protection, evidentiary confidentiality, limitation of actions and victim impact statements; and making editorial changes.
On December 10, 2013, Senate Bill 75 was unanimously passed by the Senate and heads to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Contact Rep. Ron Marsico, head of that committee, to encourage him to bring the bill up for a vote.
Prime Sponsor: Senator Greenleaf
The “3 P’s” of Senate Bill 75 (Prosecution, Prevention, Protection)
Felony of the first degree if person subjects an individual to involuntary servitude, such as:
- Causing or threatening serious harm
- Physically restraining or threatening to physically restrain
- Kidnapping or attempting to kidnap
- Taking/retaining personal or real property as means of coercion
- Extortion, blackmail, deception or fraud
Felony of the second degree if person engages in sexual conduct with individual knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the person is a human trafficking victim
Felony of the third degree if the person knowingly destroys, conceals, removes, confiscates or possesses an actual or purported passport or other immigration document or government identification document in order to maintain the involuntary servitude of the individual
Criminal penalties for:
- Nonpayment of wages for services rendered
- Obstructing justice to prevent enforcement of this chapter
- Violations by business entities that aid or participate in any violation of this chapter
- Establishes the PA Council for Prevention of Human Trafficking in the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Purpose: to develop and assist the Commission in implementing state plan.Protection
- During prosecution, nondisclosure of victim’s name
- Restitution to human trafficking victim
- Forfeiture of all assets of individual/organization used in violation.
- In event of seizure of property, proceeds may be used to reimburse law enforcement agencies, with remaining amounts distributed as follows:
- 30% to District Attorney to be used to investigate human trafficking cases
- 35% to PA Council for Prevention of Human Trafficking
- 35% to Office of Victims’ Services in PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency
Senate Bill 338 - Signed into law
Senate Bill 338 would require the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline number be placed prominently in establishments with a liquor license, massage parlors, spas, hotels and motels considered nuisances, adult entertainment clubs and places of transit.
Leach noted that the Department of Health and Human Services funds the hotline, a resource for the community to report suspicious activity that may be trafficking-related. He added that the hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and serves as a resource to save lives that comes at no cost to the Commonwealth or its citizens.
Leach has introduced the bill in past sessions, but despite winning the support of Polaris Project, Women’s Way, the Tavern Association, the Tourism & Lodging Association, and dozens of state lawmakers, it has not yet reached the governor’s desk for a signature.
Sponsors: Leach, Fontana, Stack, Tartaglione, Williams, Washington, Vance, Brubaker, Farnese, and Schwank
Short Title: An Act providing for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act; imposing duties on the Department of Labor and Industry; and prescribing penalties.
HB 235 - National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act
House Bill 235 is an Act providing for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act; imposing duties on the Department of Labor and Industry; and prescribing penalties.
Prime Sponsor – Represenatative Clymer
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
- Polaris Project
- Dawn’s Place Philadelphia
- The Wayne Foundation
- Covenant House PA/Philadelphia Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition
- Montgomery County Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Rescue & Restore Campaign
- U.S. Department of State: Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement
- The Project to End Human Trafficking
- Not for Sale
- Truckers Against Trafficking
- HumanTrafficking.Org: A Web Resource for combating human trafficking
- International Justice Mission
- Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking
- Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved – FREE