September 29, 2014

Gov Jerry Brown signs 7 bills beefing up California's human trafficking laws

9-29-2014 California:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed into law seven new bills intended to thwart human trafficking.

The bills were mostly uncontroversial and had bipartisan support; they primarily involved enhancements and upgrades to existing laws on human trafficking and youth prostitution.

They included AB1585, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, a Democrat from Watsonville, allowing courts to expunge prostitution convictions when people are found to be victims of human trafficking. The bill, which passed the Assembly by a 73-0 vote and was sponsored by state Attorney General Kamala Harris, lets defendants who are who are convicted of soliciting prostitution to petition to clear their record if they have evidence they were victims of human trafficking.

Alejo said when he introduced the bill that many human trafficking victims "are commonly and wrongly convicted for solicitation of prostitution."

Another, SB477, requires contractors hiring foreign-born nurses, home health workers, researchers and tech-sector workers in California to meet new standards.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said the standards were needed to protect laborers from abuse and human trafficking because many end up in what amounts to indentured servitude because they cannot repay recruitment fees charged to place them in jobs.

Two other bills increase the penalties for soliciting child prostitutes.

AB1791 by Republican Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of San Diego doubles county jail sentences to a year for people convicted of soliciting child prostitutes. Before amendments to the bill, defendants originally would have faced up to life in state prison on human trafficking charges regardless of whether they knew the minor prostitute's age, but it raised concerns over worsening prison overcrowding.

The other, SB1388, increases fines for the solicitation of an act of prostitution involving a minor.

"Instead of going after those who sell the sex, we can now go after those who buy the sex," the bill's sponsor Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu of Redondo Beach said in a statement Sunday. "The message now is clear: If you purchase sex, especially from a minor, then you will be prosecuted, fined and put in jail because our children are not for sale." ..Source.. by The Republic

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