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Governor signs Swanson’s human trafficking bills

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 12:24 pm in Assembly, Public safety, Sandre Swanson.

California taxpayers can choose to contribute to the state’s new Child Victims of Human Trafficking Fund which gives money to community-based organizations, under an East Bay lawmaker’s bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Californians already can make contributions to a variety of organizations listed on their personal income tax forms; AB 764 by Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, adds to that list community-based organizations that protect sexually exploited minors.

“Countless organizations throughout the state provide vital support services to child victims of sexual exploitation,” Swanson said in a news release. “Our state lacks a consistent process through which appropriate victim services can be provided to thousands of children who are struggling out on the street. With the Governor’s signature on this bill, our state can begin plucking these young girls from the eye of a hurricane and plant them in safe environments where they can be what they are: children.”

AB 764 enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support: The Assembly approved it on a 74-2 vote in June; the state Senate approved it 37-1 in August; and the Assembly voted 79-0 in August to concur in the state Senate’s amendments.

Brown also on Tuesday signed Swanson’s AB 90, which tightens state law’s language on criminal profiteering in child prostitution. Federal law clearly states prosecutors need not prove force or coercion when a trafficking victim is younger than 18, but state law was vague, requiring a showing of force even as it said it intended to conform with federal law. AB 90 changes the state’s standard of proof to require only a showing that the defendant “caused, induced, encouraged or persuaded the victim,” and also lets prosecutors implement already-existing fines and forfeiture provisions. The Assembly and state Senate approved this bill on unanimous votes.

Swanson has authored several other bills in recent years dealing with human trafficking. Most recently, Brown in June signed into law Swanson’s AB 12, which boosted fines against “johns” who pay for sex with minors and required that the money be directed to groups providing therapy, housing, shelter, and education to child victims of sex trafficking.

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