Arizona HB2454: A Great Start

On April 22, 2014, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2454 into law. (You can read her press release here: PR HB 2454.) This law brings significant positive changes to the Arizona anti-trafficking framework. In fact, some are already hailing it as a model. We wouldn’t go that far, but it is a definite victory in the fight against modern-day slavery in Arizona.

Here is what HB 2454 does in a nutshell:

  • Requires escorts, escort agencies, massage therapists, and massage therapy businesses to post the escort or massage therapy license numbers of anyone advertising escort or massage services, and requires advertisers to retain proof of the age of any escort or massage therapist whose services are advertised. Also includes penalties for noncompliance. (This provision gives prosecutors more tools to go after pimps, as well as “virtual red-light districts” such as Backpage.com.)
  • Lets the fact that a trafficker recruited, enticed, or obtained a victim from a shelter for homeless people, foster children, domestic violence or sexual assault victims, or trafficking victims, serve as an aggravating factor when they are sentenced for their crimes, resulting in longer sentences.
  • Adds child prostitution, sex trafficking, and labor trafficking to the list of crimes that can be prosecuted as racketeering, and lets money from the state’s anti-racketeering fund go toward programs serving victims of trafficking.
  • Changes the wording of the definition of pandering (i.e., pimping), making it easier to prosecute.
  • Increases penalties for child sex traffickers whose victims are 15-17 years of age, to a presumptive sentence of 13.5 years for a first-time offender.
  • Increases penalties for johns of child sex trafficking victims where the john “knew or should have known” the victim was a minor.
  • Creates an affirmative defense for those charged with prostitution that they are victims of sex trafficking.
  • Imposes new measures to protect trafficking victims’ privacy in court proceedings.
  • Establishes a (modest) state human trafficking victim assistance fund.

We’re encouraged by this progress, but there is still more to be done. Arizona still lacks many basic elements of a comprehensive anti-trafficking framework. Here are just a few examples:

  • We don’t have a “safe harbor law”–a law saying that child sex trafficking victims cannot be prosecuted for prostitution.
  • There is no special law allowing trafficking victims to sue their traffickers for civil damages.
  • There is no way for trafficking victims to have their records expunged or vacated. This is a big problem for sex trafficking victims in particular, who are often wrongfully convicted of prostitution even when they were forced into it. These convictions haunt them for years after their trafficking, making it difficult to get employment, housing, and more.
  • There is no law mandating law enforcement training on human trafficking.

HB 2454 is a victory worth celebrating, but the fight is far from over. Make sure you’re signed up for the SAAS email newsletter to stay up-to-date on legislative issues in Arizona, and all the latest trafficking news.

You can read the full text of the new law here: HB 2454. (Red text is stuff that HB 2454 deleted from prior statutes, and blue text is the stuff it added.)

Community Forum on Sex Trafficking

You are invited to attend an important event:

Community Forum: Sex Trafficking in Our Homes, Schools and Community

Date: Thursday, June 13 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm – see attached flyer for more details

 A message from Steve Kozachik, Tucson City Council, Ward 6:

Last week, on Tucson City streets the news reported two attempted abductions of children. The perpetrators are now behind bars. Last month a mother rescued her teen-aged daughter up in Marana after the youth had been abducted. And most of us are familiar with the story from Cleveland, Ohio where three women were finally rescued after having been held hostage right in the midst of their own neighborhood for several years.  Sadly, our children are falling victim to sex trafficking daily, and all too often the results are not the happy endings described above.

On Thursday, June 13th the Center for Community Dialogue will host a forum entitled “Community Forum: Sex Trafficking in Our Homes, Schools and Community.” We will be joined by KOLD News Anchor Heather Rowe who will serve as facilitator and emcee for the evening.  This timely and immensely important presentation will take place at the Pima Community College Downtown Campus in the Amethyst Room from 6pm until 8pm. Please see the attached flyer for more details.

The forum will include a frank and honest discussion of the vulnerabilities our children face, warning signs that your kids may be being lured into a dangerous trap, and steps you can take to prevent that from happening. Our presenters include a trafficking ‘survivor,’ and two women who are experts in the field from both a therapeutic and an academic standpoint. There will be no sugar-coating in the presentations, and you will be given plenty of time to interact with other attendees to share your thoughts on the topic.

This issue is present in our homes through social media. It is present on our City streets, in every area of town. And the information you hear on the 13th will both shock and inform you as to how you can protect your kids. If you can carve out time on that evening, please to join us at this event – bring your scout troop, church group, or any other youth group with which you’re affiliated. Parents, mentors, significant others and the youth for whom they’re responsible are all invited to participate. See the attached flyer for details.

I hope to see you there.

Steve Kozachik

Tucson City Council, Ward 6

 

Click here for flyer PDF: Community Forum Sex Trafficking June 13 2013 Flyer

3 Ways You Can Help Pass the TVPRA

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, or TVPRA, is currently languishing in Congress, just sitting there waiting to be brought to a vote. This critical bill will save lives in the U.S. and around the world by bolstering federal efforts to fight all forms of human trafficking. (Learn more about the TVPRA here.) But this bill isn’t going to move itself! Our senators and representatives need to hear from you that human trafficking is an important issue to their constituents! Here are some resources to help you get the word out.

  1. Print and mail in two copies of this sample letter, one to each of your Senators. It’s pretty much ready to go; all you need to do is fill in a couple blanks and then print it out. (You can find your senators’ names and addresses at the Senate website.)
  2. Call your senator and ask for their support of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. They will probably ask you for the bill number–it’s S.1301. Their numbers are listed at the Senate link above.
  3. Don’t have time to write or call? Here’s a ready-to-send email in support of the TVPRA. This will just take 30 seconds to fill out and send in, and then 10 more to share on Facebook or Twitter!

Be sure to check whether your senators have already signed on to the bill as cosponsors. If they have, please still go ahead and call them just to say thanks! If you live in Arizona, neither Senator McCain nor Senator Kyl has pledged their support yet, and in fact, Senator Kyl voted against the bill when it came before his Senate Judiciary Committee last year. Thankfully he was outvoted and the bill moved forward anyway, but it’s especially important that we convince him in particular to change his vote on this issue, since he wields great influence in the Senate.

Thanks for your support!

“A snowflake might not look like much, but if you put enough of them together, you can stop traffic.” –Rick Warren

TV Ad Targets Backpage Sex Trafficking

Today, FAIR Girls has announced that it will air a new TV ad in major cities across the US taking aim at Backpage.com, the classified ad website that has become a “virtual red light district” for sex trafficking. Here’s a link to the press release for more information.

You can watch the video here. Please share widely!

Fighting Sex Trafficking at Tucson Hotels

As you probably know, sex trafficking routinely occurs in American hotels and motels. What if we could train hotel staff to spot it and report it? Everything could change.

Here’s what you can do: give this hotel staff break room poster and a quick reference wallet card to staff at Tucson-area hotels! It’s quick and easy, and it could literally save somebody’s life!

Special thanks to the Honors College students in Dr. Fey’s class in the University of Arizona Eller College of Management for preparing these great materials!