The Senate today approved Senate Bill 75, legislation that aims to help law enforcement arrest and prosecute human traffickers, according to Senator Elder Vogel, a co-sponsor of the measure.
Human trafficking is already illegal in Pennsylvania. However, there has only been one conviction under Pennsylvania’s current statute. Advocates and prosecutors say this is because the current law contains vague definitions and lacks the teeth necessary for the effective arrest and prosecution of criminals.
“Tragically, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world,” said Senator Vogel. “This is a major problem across the nation. In fact, many young people are forcibly being trafficked up and down the east coast for purposes of prostitution and are not able to get out of these situations. In some cases, traffickers approach very vulnerable women (including underage girls) to offer them ‘legitimate’ work or the promise of an opportunity for education and then use violence, threats, and lies to suppress their victims. I believe this bill will make great strides in prosecuting these criminals.”
Senate Bill 75 will:
- More clearly define “sex trafficking” and “labor trafficking”;
- Increase fines and penalties for trafficking and involuntary servitude;
- Add penalties for business entities involved in this crime (e.g., license revocation and forfeiture of contracts);
- Create the Pennsylvania Council for the Prevention of Human Trafficking;
- Increase training for first responders; and
- Expand resources available to victim service providers.