Anti sex-trafficking measure qualifies for ballot

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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    If people really want to stop human trafficking, a good place to start would be to tax, regulate & decriminalize prostitution. The losing war on weed has gone on for 44 years. The losing war on prostitution has gone on longer. Both losing wars are easy money for the multitude of police & prosecutors who enforce those archaic laws. The prostitution license fees could go to homes for runaways like Leah Albright- Byrd. She ran away at age 14. Now she is a poster child.

  • moderate voter

    I’m curious why this new law – which is vitally needed – is going the initiative route. It would seem to me the legislature could easily pass a bill like this. Have similiar bills on human trafficking been introduced and died in the Assembly or Senate forcing backers of this law to utilize the California iniative process? That’s a question I had when I read this story. I’m just wondering why the initiative process is being used, I mean isn’t the legislature supposed to handle crime penalties and so forth?

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    The legislature has abdicated its principal role as lawmaker. MV is quite right. Sacramento is playing American Idol with any issue that requires deliberation. For all the good it does, we would be better off with a part- time Assembly and an appointed Senate. At least a body not responsible to the mob’s mood might get something accomplished.

  • Bruce R. Peterson Lafayette

    This is probably another disguised tax. All politicians can think about is raising our taxes. We just defeated the disguised “Clean Water” fee/tax. It had nothing to do with clean water, except taxing us for the clean water that lands on our roof. I attended a sales pitch about human trafficking. Obviously it was a fundraiser. Mark DeSaulnier was there too. They suckered him.