An initiative to increase the criminal penalties for human trafficking has qualified as the sixth statewide measure on California’s ballot this November, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today.
The Attorney General’s official title and summary of the initiative is:
HUMAN TRAFFICKING. PENALTIES. SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences up to 15-years-to-life and fines up to $1,500,000. Fines collected to be used for victim services and law enforcement. Requires person convicted of trafficking to register as sex offender. Requires sex offenders to provide information regarding Internet access and identities they use in online activities. Prohibits evidence that victim engaged in sexual conduct from being used against victim in court proceedings. Requires human trafficking training for police officers. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Potential one-time local government costs of up to a few million dollars on a statewide basis, and lesser additional costs incurred each year, due to the new mandatory training requirements for certain law enforcement officers. Minor increase to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising human trafficking offenders. Unknown amount of additional revenue from new criminal fees, likely not to exceed the low millions of dollars annually, which would fund services for human trafficking victims. (11-0059)
This Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act, put forth by Fremont-based California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation, aims to protect vulnerable woman and young girls who are forced into prostitution at a time when San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego already are recognized by the FBI as high intensity child sex trafficking areas.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in the proponents’ news release that after decades of prosecuting human traffickers, “I can say with firsthand experience that the CASE Act will help protect our state’s most vulnerable women and children. Increasing penalties for human traffickers and online predators and strengthening victims services are much-needed steps in the fight against these crimes.”
Human trafficking survivor Leah Albright-Byrd said she ran away from her San Francisco home at age 14, and quickly was victimized. “For years, I was physically, sexually, and emotionally abused – all when I was still just a child,” she said. “As a survivor of these experiences, I’m asking Californians to take a stand against human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children in our state and pass the CASE Act.”
Bowen said the anti-trafficking initiative needed 504,760 valid petition signatures, a number equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in November 2010. A measure can qualify via random sampling of petition signatures if the sampling projects a number of valid signatures greater than 110 percent of the required number; in the anti-trafficking initiative’s, that threshold of at least 555,236 projected valid signatures was exceeded Thursday.
The five measures that already had qualified for November are a water bond measure placed on the ballot by the Legislature; a political contribution measure; an auto insurance measure; a measure to repeal the new state Senate district maps; and a measure to repeal the death penalty.