Data released by Polaris shows that in 2014, 5,167 cases of human trafficking were reported in the United States to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and Polaris; the Hotline received a 26 percent increase in calls directly from survivors last year
Klobuchar has introduced bipartisan legislation to combat sex trafficking modeled after Minnesota’s “Safe Harbor” law that helps make sure minors sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants but are instead treated as victims; bill would also strengthen the National Human Trafficking Hotline by ensuring it’s backed by the full force of law
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today said that new data from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline underscores the urgent need to take action to crack down on sex trafficking and support victims. The data released by Polaris shows that in 2014, 5,167 cases of human trafficking were reported in the United States to the Hotline and Polaris. The NHTRC received a 26 percent increase in calls directly from survivors last year. Klobuchar has introduced bipartisan legislation to combat sex trafficking modeled after Minnesota’s “Safe Harbor” law that helps make sure minors sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants but are instead treated as victims. The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking (SETT) Act would also strengthen the National Human Trafficking Hotline by ensuring it’s backed by the full force of law.
“This new data provides fresh evidence that human trafficking is not just a problem plaguing countries half a world away—it’s happening in our own backyard,” Klobuchar said. “We need to do more to ensure that victims of sex trafficking are supported, not thrown behind bars. It’s time to pass my bipartisan bill that will expand Minnesota’s Safe Harbor model across the country to provide victims the support they need, authorize the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and help law enforcement crack down on the criminals who perpetrate these heinous crimes.”
Klobuchar’s bill, which she introduced with Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), is supported by the National Conference of State Legislatures, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Fraternal Order of Police, Shared Hope International, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, United Methodist Women. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dan Coats (R-IN), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), John McCain (R-AZ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) have cosponsored the bill.
Below is a summary of Klobuchar’s legislation.
The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (SETT):
- Includes a provision modeled after Minnesota’s “safe harbor” laws. The provision encourages all states to have a safe harbor provision to help ensure minors who are sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants, but are instead treated as victims. When a state passes a safe harbor law, it means that kids sold for sex should be steered towards child protection services, rather than being arrested, charged, or convicted under a state’s criminal laws. This bill will give states incentives through existing federal grant programs to pass safe harbor laws.
- Strengthens the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Right now, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline helps connect victims with services they need and passes on crime tips to law enforcement. Although the Hotline operates with some federal authorization, this bill makes sure that it is backed by the force of law, putting it on par with other national hotlines designed to serve victims.
- Creates a National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking. The National Strategy will help coordinate efforts to investigate and prevent human trafficking between federal, state, local, and tribal agencies. This will help set clear goals and focus resources to help combat human trafficking. The bill will also encourage better data sharing between different law enforcement agencies.
- Allows victims of sex trafficking to participate in the Job Corps program to help them get back on their feet. This bill makes clear that victims of sex trafficking should be eligible for current job training and skills building programs to help empower sex trafficking victims so that they have the tools they need to find a way out of the cycle.
- Helps victims pursue financial restitution. The bill will encourage better tracking of financial restitution orders so that victims can actually collect on the restitution they are due.