“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

- U.S. Constitution Amendment XIII – Slavery Abolished (1865)

What is the current law?

The U.S. Congress passed the “Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000″ (TVPA). It has since been reauthorized and enhanced four times. Since TVPA applies only to federal cases tried in federal courts, each state is responsible to enact its own legislation to handle cases within the state.

In 2005, California enacted the AB 22 California Trafficking Victims Protection Act (CTVPA), which established human trafficking for forced labor or services as a felony crime punishable by a sentence of 3, 4 or 5 years in state prison and a sentence of 4, 6 or 8 years for trafficking of a minor. The CTVPA covered criminal prosecution, victim protection, and prevention efforts.

The CTVPA punishments do not reflect the severity of the crime. There is no mandatory training for law enforcement. And the burden of proof for sex trafficking of minors is the same as for adults, which is inconsistent with federal legislation.

Why change the law?

“Human trafficking is a growing issue in San Diego and throughout California. Current California law does not adequately reflect the severity of this heinous crime”

- Brian Marvel, San Diego Police Officers Association President

Human trafficking flourishes where the law is weak.

The California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery (CA ACTS), established through CTVPA, found that California laws were still inadequate and recommended stiffer penalties for traffickers:

“Prosecutors need a stronger incentive to file charges under California’s human trafficking law because they can obtain stiffer penalties under other state laws. Traffickers, as a result, may escape the full impact of the penalties of law, and victims of trafficking may not receive all of the protections that were specifically included in the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Moreover, California needs a stronger state law to hold traffickers accountable because the federal government either does not have the resources to fully prosecute human trafficking cases, especially as more cases are investigated by local law enforcement, or, for a variety of other reasons, the federal government may decline to pursue a trafficking case. – CA ACTS,” Human Trafficking in California,” October 2007, page 71 .

Human trafficking carries a lighter penalty under California law than rape and kidnapping, despite the added financial benefits derived from the crime of human trafficking.

Crime Sentence (years)
Human trafficking 3, 4, 5 (4, 6, 8 if minor)
Rape (Section 264) 3, 6, 8
Rape in concert (Section 264.1) 5, 7, 9
Kidnapping (Section 208) 3, 5, 8 (5, 8, 11 if minor <14)
Kidnapping to commit sexual crime (Section 209) life with the possibility of parole

How can we change the law?

“California is a major hub for human trafficking. We fully endorse the California Against Slavery initiative because we see the strategic importance of having stronger state laws in place in the fight against human trafficking.” – Linda Smith, Founder and President of Shared Hope International, former U.S. Representative

Human trafficking exists all over the United States, but California is one of the predominant states because of its international borders, large economy and commercial influence, ports, and its large metropolitan regions. Three of the 10 worst child sex trafficking areas in the United States are in California: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

We can enact stiffer laws against human trafficking with California’s direct initiative process, which lets voters bypass the Legislature and have an issue of concern put directly on the ballot. In the process, millions of Californians will be exposed to the issue of human trafficking.

Success in California–a bellwether state–could influence other states by inspiring citizens and legislators to take action.

17 million registered voters in California can make a firm statement to traffickers around the world that we take slavery seriously and care about those in bondage.

© Copyright 2017 by California Against Slavery, a 501c4 organization. All Rights Reserved.