Senator Van de Putte and Representative Thompson File Legislation to Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws
(AUSTIN) — Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-26) and Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-141) continued their legislative leadership against human trafficking by filing legislation which will strengthen state policies to protect and assist human trafficking victims. The bills will give law enforcement, prosecutors, and service providers the tools to advance the fight against human trafficking, while also providing prevention strategies, protections for victims, and increased punishments for offenders of this horrendous crime.
"Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery," Van de Putte said. "This legislation is necessary to protect victims, punish offenders and get us one step closer to stopping a practice that is so vial and inhumane."
"There will be no more silence for the vulnerable women and children who are preyed upon and cheated out of their livelihood," added Representative Thompson. "These bills will give our law enforcement, prosecutors, and judiciary the means to fight human trafficking effectively."
Senate Bill 24 and House Bill 7, filed by Senator Van de Putte and Representative Thompson respectively, incorporate recommendations from the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force report issued by the Attorney General in January 2011. During the 81st Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature created the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force — through House Bill 4009 — in an effort to create a statewide partnership between law enforcement agencies, social service providers, non-governmental organizations, legal representatives, and state agencies who are fighting on the front line against this crime. Since then, the Task Force has proposed comprehensive legislative recommendations that better protect both adult and child victims.
The proposals submitted in the bills are recommendations approved by all 47 members of the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force. Some of the legislative recommendations that are incorporated in this legislation are to:
- Enhance the human trafficking statute by clarifying the definitions of sex and labor trafficking
- Extend the criminal statute of limitations for human trafficking crimes
- Require an offender who is convicted of sex trafficking to register as a sex offender
- Add human trafficking offenses and compelling prostitution as a 3g offense within the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
- Increase the penalty for compelling prostitution of a child to a felony of the first degree
"I am elated that this bill has garnered so much support from my colleagues who understand the importance of this legislation," remarked Van de Putte. She added,
"Twenty-one of my Senate colleagues have signed on as joint authors of the bill, which will help facilitate a cohesive attack against the criminals who profit from this horrible crime." Representative Thompson continues, "If we all work together we can eliminate the scourges of human trafficking from the face of this earth forever."