Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Passage of Bills to Combat Human Trafficking

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced two bills in the fight against human trafficking passed out of legislative committees today. T...

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced two bills in the fight against human trafficking passed out of legislative committees today. The vote comes during National Crime Victims' Rights Week, an opportunity to remember victims and advocate for victims' rights.

One bill will aid in recovering money for victims of human trafficking and the second bill will require that predators convicted of even one instance of sex trafficking of a minor forfeit any profits earned from their crimes. This legislative package continues Attorney General Harris' commitment to fighting human trafficking. As District Attorney of San Francisco, she co-sponsored the California Human Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2005, which first made human trafficking a felony. Since taking office, she has convened meetings across the state with law enforcement agencies, NGOs and victim advocates to assess the status of human trafficking efforts in California and determine next steps.

Attorney General Harris has also launched a website to connect various anti-trafficking groups across the state and provide tools to help Californians identify and report human trafficking in their communities. The website also has help for victims available in 18 languages. "Human trafficking is a criminal industry that is expanding rapidly across the globe, including here in California," Attorney General Harris said. "I am proud to sponsor these bills against human trafficking and am committed to this fight. The same transnational gangs that traffic drugs and guns across our border also traffic human beings and we must counter their threat."

The first bill, Senate Bill 1133 (Support for Victims of Human Trafficking), prevents all criminals convicted of sex trafficking minors from retaining any financial benefits from their participation in this crime. The bill authorizes the forfeiture of defendant property upon proof of only one instance of sex trafficking of a minor, as opposed to more than one instance under current law. The bill also expands the scope of property subject to forfeiture and provides a formula to redirect these resources to organizations that provide treatment and services for victims of human trafficking. It passed the Senate Public Safety Committee today on a 7 to 0 vote.

 "Sex trafficking of minors is a horrendous crime that is driven by the prospect of lucrative profits," said Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, author of SB 1133. "This legislation aims to deprive convicted criminals of the financial resources and assets that would allow them to continue luring young people into the sex trade. In turn, proceeds from those forfeitures would rightfully be used to help victims begin to repair their lives." Jenny Williamson, founder of Courage to be You, an organization that has a long-term residential home for human trafficking victims, testified in support of the bill. "The perpetrators of these young girls keep all proceeds, and when the girls come to us, they have nothing but the clothes on their back they were used to sell their bodies for," she said. "So as a provider of victim services, we take on all those expenses for these victims."

The second bill, Assembly Bill 2466 (Preservation of Assets for Victims of Human Trafficking), will require that more victims of human trafficking receive restitution. Under California law, victims are entitled to mandatory restitution; however there are no laws to help prevent human trafficking defendants from liquidating and hiding their assets before conviction. Assembly Bill 2466 would allow a court to order the preservation of the assets and property by persons charged with human trafficking. The bill passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee today on unanimous vote.

"Trafficking is slavery and it's a growing problem right here in California," said Bob Blumenfield, D-San Fernando Valley, author of AB 2466. "We must give prosecutors the tools they need to confront this despicable crime and bring justice to victims, including the restitution they need to rebuild their lives. Passing my bill into law will help accomplish that." Human trafficking is slavery, and unlike the slavery of the past, this modern form of slavery is a hidden crime.

It is estimated to be a $9 billion worldwide industry, with more than 14,500 individuals trafficked each year into the United States. The trafficking is often done by transnational gangs that transport guns, drugs and human beings across the border into California. For additional information, visit the Attorney General's Human Trafficking in California website at

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