I’m honored to be working with Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe and a committed group of lawmakers on a bipartisan effort to end child sex trafficking in California. The legislative effort involves the work and cooperation of. Sen. Ted Lieu, Sen. Holly Mitchell, Sen. Jerry Hill, Sen. Marty Block, Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman and the human-rights group California Against Slavery.
Some of this legislation – like my SB 982 — has already been introduced. Other bills are still a work in progress. But the overall goal is to protect innocent children from sexual exploitation and slavery. Legislation is not only needed to help the victims, but we also need to give prosecutors the tools to enhance the prosecution of those who sexually exploit minors.
SB 982 targets the johns – the customers who target innocent children who have been lured and trapped into a world of sexual slavery. My bill could also be called “Two Strikes and You’re Out, as it increases penalties against customers who prey on teens. The first strike would give a district attorney the leeway to charge offenders with a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the seriousness of the crime.
A second arrest, however, results in a much more serious charge. There are no more second chances. The second arrest for solicitation of a minor results in a felony charge, and a conviction can result in a long jail sentence. This should make offenders think twice.
I am also serving as Principal co-author for legislation introduced by Senator Mitchell. SB 955 would allow courts to authorize law enforcement officials to use wiretaps when investigating or prosecuting the trafficking of minors. Wiretapping is already legal in investigations of illicit drug dealing, various violent crimes, and felony conspiracies.
Our children are at risk today because the demand for sex acts with children drives the market for their exploitation. The best way to save our kids is to address the demand problem. We can start by addressing the culture of tolerance that allows buyers of sex with children to go home to their families while the children they exploit are shattered and denied justice. We can also do more to catch and punish those who lure children into a world of vice.
This is a $32 billion a year industry. The FBI has determined that three of the nation’s thirteen High Intensity Child Prostitution areas are located in California.
Most women involved in prostitution, over the age of 18, started out as victims of sex trafficking as little girls. Studies estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of commercially sexually exploited children are or were formally involved with the child welfare system. They are often targeted by traffickers because of their need for love, affirmation, acceptance and protection. These children long for a family, but they are instead lured into a world of extreme violence and abuse.
Our bipartisan legislative solution to this problem, as it evolves and moves forward will focus on increasing penalties against those convicted of promoting or participating in the sexual trafficking of minors. We must, at the same time, focus on saving the victims from being lured back into a lifetime of prostitution.
As Senators and Assembly members representing different and diverse communities we have come together to deliver a clear message to those who exploit children: These actions will no longer be tolerated. Target a child, go to prison.
For More Information on California State Senator Bob Huff’s SB 982:
- SB 982 (Huff) Prostitution: minors: punishment
- Makes the procurement or attempt to procure sex from a prostitute under 18 years of age a felony punishable in a county jail for 16 months, 2 or 3 years in addition to a fine.
- Crittenton’s Support Letter for SB 982
California State Senator Bob Huff serves as the Senate Republican Leader in the California State Senate and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. He currently serves as a member of the Senate Education Committee, Joint Committee on Rules, and the Vice Chair of the San Gabriel Valley Legislative Caucus. Most recently his office has taken a strong stance against child sex trafficking. Crittenton Services for Children and Families is committed in serving as a legislative partner to Senator Huff’s office by advocating for the most vulnerable in our community.