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Governor Jindal signs bills to crack down on human trafficking and protect victims

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Gov. Jindal signs bills to fight human trafficking. Gov. Jindal signs bills to fight human trafficking.
BATON ROUGE, La. -

Today, Governor Jindal signed four bills into law that will crack down on human trafficking in Louisiana. HB 1025 by Rep. Neil Abramson, HB 569 by Rep. Julie Stokes, HB 1105 by Rep. Valerie Hodges, and HB 1262 by Rep. Barry Ivey will help ensure criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that victims of human trafficking are identified and protected. These bills were included in Governor Jindal's 2014 Legislative Package. 

The Governor said human trafficking occurs when a person is forced to provide commercial services against her will, often related to sex - and it is occurring at alarming rates in Louisiana. The Governor said these new laws will further punish criminals in order to deter participation in this terrible industry, as well as provide victims more protection and a way out. 

Governor Jindal was joined by several organizations that work to protect victims of human trafficking, including Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign. The A21 Campaign is an international organization that works to fight human trafficking and raise awareness about its underground nature. 

Governor Jindal said, "I am proud to sign these bills into law to help us win the war against human trafficking in Louisiana. These crimes are happening at alarming rates in America, and the Louisiana State Police has seen rising numbers right here in our state. Criminals who engage in these human trafficking crimes deserve the harshest punishment that we can possibly give them. They should be given zero opportunity to ever harm anyone again. That's why we made human trafficking one of our top priorities this session, and that work has allowed us to strengthen penalties and better protect the victims of these heinous acts.

"To further crack down on human trafficking, we also added $250,000 into the state budget for the development and implementation of a human trafficking training course. This course will help law enforcement better understand the signs of human trafficking, and it will help officers learn how to combat these criminal activities as they patrol our streets and communities." 

Victims are often lured in by a controlling criminal who promises them a chance at a better life - such as a job, an education or even simply a loving relationship in place of the family they do not have. These criminals use physical abuse, threats, lies, manipulation, and false promises - degrading their victims as human beings and treating them as property. 

A21 Campaign Founder Christine Caine said, "It is so inspiring to see how Louisiana is leading the way by enacting such tough laws on human trafficking. Governor Jindal and the legislators have boldly chosen to be leaders on the national and global scale in fighting this terrible industry - and this legislation is going to play a key role in helping to end these horrible crimes and identify those trapped in slavery. I am so personally thankful that Governor Jindal chose to make this one of his top priorities for the 2014 Legislative Session." 

Rep. Neil Abramson said, "I'm honored to be the author of this legislation that Governor Jindal is signing today, which will build upon our previous efforts to put an end to human trafficking in Louisiana. This law will continue to crack down on criminals and will also raise awareness about human trafficking, including that there are victims of human trafficking who need help. Together, we can stop human trafficking; this legislation is another great step toward achieving that goal."

HB 1025 by Rep. Neil Abramson creates harsher punishments and better tools for cracking down on human trafficking and commercial sex related offenses: 

The bill targets those purchasing sex by creating the crime of "unlawful purchase of commercial sexual activity" and requiring a person who commits this crime with a minor to register as a sex offender. It expands the present crimes of human trafficking and trafficking of children for sexual purposes to include the act of receiving, isolating, and enticing another person in order to engage in sexual services or labor. 

Additionally, the legislation expands the definition of "racketeering activity" to include pornography involving juveniles, computer-aided solicitation of a minor, prostitution, persons under eighteen, soliciting for prostitutes, inciting prostitution, promoting prostitution, letting premises for prostitution, enticing persons into prostitution, keeping a disorderly place, letting a disorderly place, and operation of places of prostitution. 

It increases the penalties for crimes involving organized or facilitating prostitution by permitting the court to seize the personal property directly used in the commission of the offense and requires that the funds generated from the sale be deposited in the Exploited Children's Special Fund which is used to fund services for victims. 

This includes electronic communication devices, computers, computer related equipment, vehicles, and other media devices. The bill also increases protections and remedies for victims of Human Trafficking. It expands the affirmative defense currently afforded to minor victims of human trafficking involving commercial sexual activity for crimes committed as a direct result of trafficking to adult victims of human trafficking. It permits a person to file a motion to vacate a conviction for prostitution related offenses which were committed as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking or trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

HB 569 authored by Rep. Julie Stokes authorizes district courts to designate a section or division of court for human trafficking courts. This legislation requires that these human trafficking courts emphasize training for judges on the issues involved in human trafficking and specialize in hearing cases involving prostitution related offenses for the purpose of identifying victims. 

Current law authorizes the judges of any judicial district court, by majority vote of the judges to designate a certain specialized division of the court to operate a drug court, driving while intoxicated court, or a mental health court. 

Human trafficking survivor and Eden House Resident Director Clemmie Greenlee said, "I am grateful to Governor Bobby Jindal for bringing awareness to the issue of human trafficking here in the United States and in Louisiana. I am humbled at the opportunity to speak out on this issue with the Governor and give a voice to the voiceless. These laws will help more women like me who thought they had no way out." 

Eden House Co-Founder and Executive Director Kara Van de Carr said, "Louisiana is a leader in the fight against human trafficking, which is a global human rights violation that is happening right here in our state. These laws are a vital tool to protect against the criminal victimization of our citizens and to foster their healing and recovery. We are grateful that Governor Jindal made these bills a priority and signed them into law."

HB 1105 authored by Rep. Hodges requires posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in outpatient abortion facilities. Often perpetrators of human trafficking force women and children to undergo abortions so that the victims can continue working in the industry. This bill is aimed at reaching the victims before that happens. 

Current law requires certain establishments to post information regarding the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in location that have been found to be a public nuisance for prostitution, included massage parlors, spas and sexually oriented businesses. 

This bill additionally requires outpatient abortion facilities to post information regarding the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline so that victims have a fast way to reach out for help.

HB 1262 by Rep. Ivey requires that, prior to undergoing an elective abortion, a woman must be provided with information on coerced abortions and human trafficking. This law will help identify more victims of human trafficking who are forced to go to abortion facilities and it will help offer victims a way out of this terrible industry.

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