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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: May 6, 2013 02:50 PM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Safe Harbor Legislation for Victims of Human Trafficking
In the near future I will be introducing legislation to provide protection and services for the victims of human trafficking. This Safe Harbor legislation is recommended by the Polaris Project to strengthen a state’s response to human trafficking and to stop treating victims as criminals.

The legislation would establish a presumption that any child under 18 years of age who is charged with a commercial sex act is the victim of human trafficking and requires them to be treated as such. A diversion program would be established so that instead of being prosecuted as delinquents these children will be treated as dependent children in need of services. Finally a fund would be established to operate safe houses and resource centers around the state for sexually exploited and abused children. The children would receive the services they need, including housing, education, medical care, mental healthcare, and case management. The money to operate the fund would come from a fine levied on any person convicted of patronizing prostitutes, human trafficking or promoting prostitution.

Over 100,000 children are exploited through prostitution in the United States each year. These children are victims, not criminals, and they deserve the protection of the child welfare system, not re-victimization and incarceration in the juvenile justice system. Not only is this the right thing to do by these exploited children, it is also the most effective way to help law enforcement target the traffickers and pimps who are the real criminals.

Introduced as SB915