UPDATE below: A bill to make sex trafficking a felony once again in California was blocked Tuesday in the Assembly Public Safety Committee by Democrats, after passing unanimously in the Senate.
Currently human trafficking is defined as a “non-serious” crime which means the act of human trafficking cannot be considered a strike under California’s Three Strikes law.
Six proposed bills in 2018-19 would have corrected unclear language and serious flaws in Proposition 57, passed in 2016 by voters, which reclassified many serious heinous crimes as “non-serious.” The initiative specified early parole for persons who committed non-violent offenses. However, the initiative never specified what is considered a non-violent felony.
But all 6 bills were killed by Democrats. Ironically, most of the bills were killed in Assembly or Senate Public Safety committees, just as SB 14 was.
Human trafficking involving a minor, assault with a deadly weapon, solicitation of murder, rape under various specified circumstances, grand theft of a firearm, elder and dependent adult abuse, were considered “non-violent” crimes under Prop. 57.
Senate Bill 14 by Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) was voted down in the Assembly Public Safety Committee with 6 Democrats abstaining and 2 Republicans voting “aye”… that means Democrats wouldn’t even commit to a “no” vote lest it look bad during reelection time.
SB 14 would have included sex trafficking of minors in the lists of crimes that are defined as serious under California law, making the crime a strike under the Three Strikes law, and would help strengthen protections for the millions of victims of sex trafficking.
“After passing the Senate with a unanimous, bipartisan vote, I had hoped Democrats on the Assembly Public Safety Committee, led by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), would agree to make sex trafficking of a minor a serious felony,” Sen. Grove said. “I am profoundly disappointed that committee Democrats couldn’t bring themselves to support the bill, with their stubborn and misguided objection to any penalty increase regardless of how heinous the crime.”
Sen. Grove’s fact sheet on SB 14 goes into more detail:
California consistently ranks number one in the nation in the number of human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The California Attorney General notes that California is one of the largest sites for human trafficking in the United States, recognizes the serious nature of this crime, and has defined it as “modern day slavery.” “Human trafficking is among the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprises and is estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global industry. It is a form of modern day slavery that profits from the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations.”(https://oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking).
“Human trafficking of children is a growing tragedy that disproportionately targets minority girls, and California is a hotbed because of our lenient penalties,” Sen. Grove said after Tuesday’s hearing. “The sad reality is that trafficked children on Figueroa Street and across California will continue to be raped and victimized until Assembly Democrats take action. Since the bill was granted reconsideration, I will continue to work with the committee and fight for Californians who are outraged by their decision.”
The bipartisan measure is coauthored by 34 members of the Legislature. SB 14 is supported by a large coalition of human trafficking survivors, advocates, local, national and international organizations. Click here for the full list.
UPDATE: Senator Grove held a Zoom conference Wednesday afternoon, updating media after having talks with Assembly Public Safety Chairman Jones Sawyer, and Gov. Gavin Newsom. Sen. Grove said the governor was also disappointed with the Public Safety Committee, and said he would help with the bill.
Sen. Grove answered questions from media:
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