Last September, five Missouri men were indicted for trafficking a 16-year-old mentally deficient girl, and forcing her to sign a “sex slave contract.” For four years, the men made her work as a stripper, sexually abused her and tortured her on webcam. They even tattooed a barcode on her neck, and the letter “S”—for slave. This case is horrific, and like me, you probably want these men in jail for life. But Missouri law doesn’t agree: in the state, most convicted human traffickers serve only five years in prison, and sentences are capped at fifteen years, according to The Columbia Daily Tribune.
This particular case is brutal enough that the traffickers are facing life in prison — but what about future criminals? Missouri needs to bring its weak state trafficking laws up to the federal level. This move would empower state law enforcement to assist federal investigators, and send a strong message that trafficking is not a small crime. Representative Jason Kander (D-Kansas City) is planning to introduce legislation that will raise the penalties in Missouri state courts to the federal level Trafficking is currently only a Class B felony in Missouri, which carries a 5-15 year penalty. Kander's legislation would make state law match federal law, giving criminals — like those who trafficked and sexually abused a disabled 16-year-old girl — the sentences they deserve. Tell Missouri legislatures to support the proposal today.