Governor Jerry Brown of California recently sign a human trafficking bill in an effort to streamline prosecutions, save taxpayer dollars, and reduce the amount of trauma inflicted upon victims of trafficking when appearing in court, according to officials.
Senate Bill 939 gives prosecutors the opportunity to file multiple charges during during a single trial against defendants who have allegedly committed offenses related to human trafficking across the state of California, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
According to Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, “SN 939 will be a tremendous asset to prosecutors statewide and make it easier and more efficient to prosecute these types of cases.”
The current law requires victims of human trafficking to travel to different counties across California, where they are often exploited to testify against traffickers in a number of separate trials. SB Bill 939 completely eliminates the need for multiple trials in different jurisdictions.
The timing for this new bill is perfect, as human trafficking has become the fastest growing crime in California. The new law also provides victims with more protection.
Human trafficking isn’t just a problem for the state of California, it has long been a national and global epidemic. It’s estimated that 3 out of 1,000 people worldwide are forced into labor, according to a 2012 report released by the International Labour Organization. That translates to nearly 21 million people, including 1.5 million in North American alone. Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Act passed in the year 2000, the United States defines human trafficking as falling into two main categories, sex trafficking and labor trafficking.
However, the FBI works tirelessly in order to rescue victims, most of which are children, from the horrors of human trafficking. Each year, a significantly large number of children go missing each year and fall victim to human trafficking rings, right on U.S. soil. Several of these innocent children are lured and forced into prostitution by child predators they’ve met on the internet.
In 2003, the FBI launched a groundbreaking and massive operation called the Bureau’s Innocence Lost Program. Since its implementation, the program has been extremely successful, and is credited with recovering 3,600 child victims of human trafficking rings.
Recently, the FBI has just recovered 168 child victims as part of an annual nationwide crackdown. The majority of these children were never even reported as missing. Also, 281 “pimps” were also arrested as part of the operation. Though this is news is cause for celebration, the internet remains a powerful medium used by predators to lure children into danger.
Law enforcement officers continue to work diligently in order to rescue victimized children and bring justice to suspected predators. This year-long operation, known as Operation Cross Country, is an essential aspect in both raising awareness regarding the issue of human trafficking as well as continuing the fight to protect children, and punish predators of this abominable crime, which preys on the most vulnerable of people.