Wednesday, May 23, 2012

OHIO Human Trafficking Bill OK’d by House

The Ohio House on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation that would toughen the penalties for people convicted of human trafficking and provide more protections and services to victims to shield them from prosecution and aid their recovery from the traumatic experiences.
“It’s basically written with a victim-centered approach,” said State Rep. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, sponsor of House Bill 262.
The bill, which is expected to reach the Senate floor later this week, creates a diversion program that upon completion erases criminal charges facing young trafficking victims and allows adult victims to expunge their criminal records if the crimes resulted from their enslavement.
The bill increases trafficking to a first-degree felony that requires a prison term of 10 to 15 years. It also requires that people who pay to have sex with minors face felony charges, and convicted pimps and traffickers must register as sex offenders.
The legislation allows victims to sue traffickers in civil court, and it permits assets belonging to traffickers that are seized by law enforcement to be used to pay for services needed by victims.
“It has three prongs to it: prevention, protection and prosecution,” Fedor said.
The bill has a provision that says traffickers who intimidate or threaten victims in an attempt to keep them from testifying in court will face second-degree felony charges of obstruction of justice.


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