California Assembly Finally Passes Child Trafficking Bill

The California Assembly Public Safety Committee has achieved a significant milestone by advancing a crucial bill aimed at combating child trafficking. Senate Bill 14, authored by Sen. Shannon Grove (R-CA), has successfully cleared the state Assembly with a unanimous vote of 79-0.

 

This important piece of legislation now heads back to the State Senate for approval following a revision made two weeks ago. The Assembly’s approval includes an essential addendum designed to safeguard individuals who have been victimized by human trafficking, ensuring that they are not wrongfully prosecuted under the new law.

Sen. Grove, the driving force behind SB 14, addressed reporters in a statement following the Assembly vote. She highlighted the profound impact the bill could have on addressing the horrendous crime of child trafficking.

She emphasized that SB 14 is designed to increase the penalties for repeat offenders involved in the sale of children for exploitation and those who commit unspeakable acts against minors. Should SB 14 receive final approval, it would mark a pivotal moment in California’s legal history, making child trafficking a major felony.

This categorization would make it a strikable violation, allowing for extended prison sentences, including the possibility of life imprisonment for repeat offenders, or individuals found guilty of additional strikeable offenses. Sen. Grove stressed that the legislation’s primary objective is to prevent serial child traffickers from being released from prison prematurely.

Interestingly, Assembly members from both sides of the political spectrum underscored the significance of this achievement. It was noted that this was the sixth attempt by lawmakers to introduce the bill. Previous efforts had been consistently thwarted by a key committee known for its opposition to initiatives that would potentially increase prison sentences.

Their rationale, as they have claimed, is to prevent further overcrowding in California’s prisons. The approval of SB 14 was made possible after incorporating a crucial revision to address concerns that victims who were coerced or compelled to collaborate with their traffickers might inadvertently face prosecution and imprisonment.

The next step for SB 14 is a journey back to the Senate, where its fate will be decided once more. If it secures approval there, the bill will make its way to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), where he will have the final say.