WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) co-sponsored the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act this week, which was introduced by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (Texas). The bipartisan bill would bolster law enforcement tools to stop these violent crimes, and help victims of trafficking by creating grants for state and local governments to develop comprehensive systems to address these crimes. To read the bill, click here.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, at least 100,000 American children each year are the victims of commercial child prostitution and child trafficking. The Victims of Trafficking Act has been endorsed by 200 advocacy groups, including the NAACP, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Rights 4 Girls, National Association to Protect Children, Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“Modern-day slavery exists right here in our own backyard. As a father and grandfather, I find this utterly disgusting,” said Blunt. “We must do everything possible to combat sex trafficking and protect these innocent victims. This bill will give law enforcement, the courts, and anti-trafficking task forces the tools to hold predators and human traffickers accountable while also helping victims restore their lives.”
Specifically, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act would:
- Improve law enforcement’s ability to target those who purchase sex or labor from a trafficking victim and hold them responsible as a human trafficker under the law.
- Create a deficit-neutral Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund – financed entirely through criminal fines – to increase federal resources available for victims.
- Recognize child pornography production as a form of human trafficking, ensuring victims have access to support services available for victims.
- Protect victims and witnesses by requiring traffickers to be treated as violent criminals for purposes of pre-trial release, monitoring, and detention.
- Ensure federal crime victims are informed of any plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement in their case.
- Streamline the ability of state and local task forces to obtain wiretap warrants in order to investigate crimes of child pornography, child sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.
- Increase the authority of law enforcement to seize assets of convicted traffickers and directs proceeds towards funding victim restitution orders and financial awards for witnesses.
- Create a victim-centered block grant program to help state and local governments fight human trafficking through increased shelter space and services, law enforcement task forces, and problem-solving court programs for human trafficking victims.
- Provide authorization for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) programs that target internet child exploitation and train returning military veterans to become law enforcement officials focused on taking down predators and human traffickers.
- Create a Human Trafficking Advisory Council composed of survivors to formulate recommendations to the federal government.