The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015
- The JVTA significantly improved the U.S. response to human trafficking. Like most current key legislation regarding human trafficking, the JVTA has its roots in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), an act that had been established in 2000 to enable the government to fight human trafficking by means of protection, prevention and prosecution....read more...
The JVTA has been updated by reauthorization (now TVPRA) in 2003, ’05, ’08, and ’13. Since 2015, it is supported by the JVTA, giving the Department of Justice more tools to address human trafficking and easing the process of prosecuting traffickers. The JVTA also contains a number of important amendmends strengthening survivor services and increasing criminal liability of buyers of commercial sex from trafficking victims.
The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014
- This act seeks to reduce sex trafficking among youth involved in the foster care system. It sets guidelines and requirements for child welfare systems to follow, including the identification of children who might be at risk of becoming trafficking victims and reporting of missing youth to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children within 24 hours of disappearance.
Look Beneath the Surface – an initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with the primary goal of spreading awareness and educating about the factors that make certain populations more at risk of being trafficked.
New York State Legislation
The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act – written and sponsored by Assemblymember Amy Paulin, passed in 2015.
- This bill recognizes that buying children for the purpose of sex is sex abuse. It increases penalties on the traffickers and allows law enforcement to receive the resources they need to incarcerate traffickers....read more...
The bill was written to raise both sex and labor trafficking to class B felony status and also equalizes line patronizing a minor for sex with statutory rape. If an adult has sex with a minor, it’s considered statutory rape; before this bill, if the the adult handed the minor a $20 bill, the charge was lessened. The bill also increases the penalties for traffickers so that the punishment matches the severity of the crime. Another update to this bill is the allowance of wire tapping during investigations. Because victims are in a vulnerable and fearful state, they may not always be in the right state of mind to testify against their trafficker. Allowing a wiretap to be set up works to bring the trafficker to justice and protect the victim and the same time.
Human Trafficking Intervention Courts
- In 2013, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the creation of 11 Human Trafficking Intervention Courts in New York State. The creation of the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts marks a shift in how the court system views individuals arrested for prostitution. Rather than treating them as criminals, the court will make it possible for girls and women trapped in the sex trade to obtain much needed social services and support.
The Safe Harbor Act – sponsored by Assembly Member William Scarborough and Senator Dale Volker, passed in 2008.
- The Safe Harbor Act fights child victimization by seeking to provide children under the age of 17 the services that they need to be rehabilitated instead of incarcerating them. Children as young as 11 and 12 years old are being forced into prostitution and the state was previously implementing jail time instead of services that will help them through the traumas they were subjected to.