Wednesday, February 13, 2013
New Legislation to Strengthen the State's Fight Against Human TraffickingThe following news release was issued on Feb. 12, 2012, by the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte:
Austin — Today, state Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) and Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) announced comprehensive legislation to continue and strengthen Texas' fight against human trafficking.
"In 2011, Texas got tough on human traffickers," said Senator Van de Putte. "In 2013, we're going to show compassion toward survivors. This legislation will get victims the help they deserve. I know my colleagues are horrified to know this crime occurs in Texas and are ready to lend a hand to those who have been hurt."
Often referred to as "modern day slavery," human trafficking is a vile crime in which labor - often in the form of sex trafficking - is forced from its victims. Previous legislative collaborations between Sen. Van de Putte and Rep. Thompson - the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Human Trafficking - strengthened the ability of prosecutors to pursue traffickers. Senate Bill 532/House Bill 8 continues law enforcement efforts and also turns the state's attention to programs that will protect and assist survivors of the crime.
"I firmly believe that the state of Texas is moving in the right direction to continue the fight against this scourge on humanity," said Representative Thompson. "We have worked tirelessly together on this issue and we will continue to fight for the victims of this heinous crime," said Representative Thompson.
The legislation is a combination of all of the recommendations from the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force, led by Attorney General Abbott. General Abbott has been instrumental in turning previous human trafficking legislation into concrete action.
"Because of the hard work of our legislative leaders, law enforcement authorities and victim advocates, Texas continues to lead the way in the protection of human trafficking survivors," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said. "The bills filed today by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Rep. Senfronia Thompson will give new tools to law enforcement officials and assist in the effort to combat human trafficking across the State of Texas. By enhancing penalties for offenders who employ, authorize or compel a child to work in a sexually oriented business - and by providing new protective measures for these vulnerable victims, this new legislation will help ensure Texas remains hostile territory for human traffickers."
Among the bill's major provisions:
- Extends the criminal statute of limitations for offenses involving compelling prostitution of a minor.
- Makes trafficking survivors eligible to receive reimbursement for relocation expenses under the Crime Victims' Compensation Act.
- Includes survivors of human trafficking-related offenses as eligible participants in the Address Confidentiality Program.
- Resolves some conflicting statutes related to human trafficking.