New Friends New Life Supports Legislation that Provides: Protective Provisions for Child Human Trafficking Victims, Expanded Relief for Child and Adult Victims of Human Trafficking and Harsher Penalties for those Buying Children. The following bills are currently before the Texas legislature and promote the positions articulated in the New Friends New Life Legislative Agenda. Please contact your local legislators and tell them to support these bills on behalf of victims and survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation!
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and the Human Trafficking Hotline receives the 2nd most calls from Texas.
It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 human trafficking victims passes through our state.
We aim to help tackle this growing epidemic by focusing on three main goals during this legislative session:
(1) providing protective provisions for child human trafficking victims;
(2) expanding relief for child and adult victims of human trafficking; and
(3) decreasing demand for sex trafficking.
Proposed solutions to problems relating to these goals are presented below, with references to bills that are currently before the Texas state legislature that support them.
I. Provide Protective Provisions for Child Human Trafficking Victims
(1) Problem: Children involved in sex trafficking are charged with prostitution offenses in some jurisdictions.
Proposed Solution: Establish support programs that divert rather than convict victims of sex trafficking and programs that educate minors on the risks and warning signs of sex trafficking.
Supporting Bills: HB 1218, HB 2645, SB 2039
(2) Problem: Buyers of prostitution are difficult to prosecute.
Proposed Solution: Codify that buyers can be prosecuted for sexual acts with children, regardless of whether they knew the age of the victim. Increase punishment for frequent buyers of prostitution services.
Supporting Bills: HB 29, HB 1808, HB 2960
II. Expand Relief for Child and Adult Victims of Human Trafficking
(1) Problem: Trafficking victims are forced to do things that result in criminal arrests and convictions. Their criminal record then hinders them from receiving housing and employment opportunities.
Proposed Solution: Allow trafficking victims to request orders of nondisclosure or expunctions for convictions, not just successful completion of deferred adjudication, and for other offenses in addition toprostitution, including theft and drug-related offenses.
Supporting Bills: HB 269, HB 2509, SB 1165, SB 1504
III. Decrease Demand for Sex Trafficking
(1) Problem: Currently, buyers of prostitution must offer to engage, agree to engage, or engage in sexual conduct for a fee or solicit another in a “public place” to be convicted of a crime. However, most trafficking activity occurs in private and/or on the Internet.
Proposed Solution: Eliminate the requirement for solicitation in a “public place" and focus additional attention on the growing sex trade online.
Supporting Bills: HB 29, HB 2020, HB 2960, SB 1569
(2) Problem: People who purchase commercial sexual activity are not facing significant penalties.
Proposed Solution: Increase punishments for frequent buyers of commercial sexual activity and make it easier for them to be charged with a crime.
Supporting Bills: HB 29, HB 1218, HB 1666, HB 1667, HB 1808, HB 2020, HB 2529, HB 2960, SB 811, SB 1433, SB 1569, SB 1579
(3) Problem: It is currently challenging for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute some traffickers and others who contribute to and benefit financially from prostitution.
Proposed Solution: Expand the meaning of “promotion of prostitution” to include traffickers and others who provide a person for prostitution service, operate or assist to operate a prostitution enterprise, or engage in other conduct designed to institute, aid, or facilitate prostitution so that they too can be prosecuted.
Supporting Bill: HB 2960
(4) Problem: When individuals are charged with sexual offenses against minors, the statutes do not make it clear that offenders can’t defend themselves by saying that there was no real child involved or they did not know the child’s age.
Proposed Solution: Add language to notify defendants and jurors that individuals can be prosecuted regardless of whether the individual knows of the child’s age or whether the child actually exists.
Supporting Bills: HB 29, HB 1808, HB 2960, SB 1569