Consider S-5121: prevention of child sex trafficking, the rescue of exploited youth, and penalties against traffickers
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On behalf of youth who are forced into sexual slavery in Iowa, and with great hope for their rescue and restoration, I ask that you bring S-5121 to the floor for consideration and support. I also ask your support for S-5121 to protect ALL of Iowa's vulnerable youth from being entrapped by human traffickers, especially the more than 10,030 who experience homelessness every year.
S-5121 includes provisions proposed by both the Senate and House which will aid in the prevention of child sex trafficking, the rescue of exploited youth, and tough penalties against traffickers. It establishes a much-needed victims' fund, for youth whom, research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests, will need sixteen months or more of comprehensive, trauma-informed care in order to restore their wellbeing. It includes a mandate for an annual report on law enforcement training and human trafficking investigations; a much needed step forward in enhancing our capacity to identify trafficked youth and provide statewide statistics on this crime. It provides tough penalties for buyers of commercially sexually exploited youth, clearly communicating the gravity of their crimes; as well as tough penaties for the facilitators of prostitution. It furthermore broadens the methods of enticing children into commercial sexual exploitation which law enforcement and procescutors may consider. Finally, among other excellent provisions, S-5121 gives county attorneys the option of referring commercially sexually exploited youth to DHS as "children in need of assistance" instead of juvenile detention and gives such youth the opportunity to have their records expunged after two years of keeping clean records.
In short, S-5121 will move Iowa closer to becoming a national leader in anti-trafficking legislation which protects youth, prevents the growth of this terrible crime, and also punishes the heinous acts of perpetrators. It clearly communicates a high moral ground regarding our State's perspective on the growing crime of human trafficking, a 32 billion dollar a year industry. Of no small import, also, S-5121 will enhance Iowa's eligibility for federal funding to combat human trafficking, as our state has yet to convince federal agencies to fund major grants due to a lack of solid research on human trafficking in its rural and metropolitan regions.
With great respect for your service and many thanks for your hard work on anti-trafficking legislation.
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