Urge the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and President Obama to pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011 (S.596).
What is the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act?
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011 (S.596) sponsored by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), authorizes large block grants to create a comprehensive, victim-centered approach to addressing child sex trafficking and calls for improvements to the National Crime Information Center system to track information about missing and exploited children.
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act will improve federal and state government efforts to combat domestic sex trafficking of minors by:
- Authorizing six year-long grants of $2.5 million to state or local governments in regions that have
-- a significant sex trafficking problem
-- demonstrated cooperation between law enforcement, prosecutors, and service providers in efforts to combat sex trafficking, and
-- developed a plan to combat sex trafficking that includes provisions for victims' shelter and services, training of law enforcement and service providers, and prosecution and deterrence of traffickers.
- Providing that a minimum of 25% of grant funds are used to provide shelter and services to victims of sex trafficking.
- Providing for an independent annual evaluation of grant recipients' programs.
- Requiring state reporting of missing children to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and encouraging the Attorney General to change the NCIC to facilitate protection of missing children.
Encouraging states to enact safe harbor laws that presume a minor found in prostitution is a victim of a severe form of trafficking.
In the United States, human trafficking is an increasing problem. This criminal enterprise includes citizens of the United States, many of them children, who are forced into prostitution, and foreigners brought into the country, often under false pretenses, who are coerced into forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
Sex trafficking is one of the most lucrative areas of human trafficking. Criminal gang members in the United States are increasingly involved in recruiting young women and girls into sex trafficking.
Minors in the United States are highly vulnerable for sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. As many as 2,800,000 children live on the streets. Of the estimated 1,600,000 children who run away each year, 77 percent return home within 1 week. However, 33 percent of children who run away are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
Children who have run away from home are at a high risk of becoming involved in sex trafficking. Children who have run away multiple times are at much higher risk of not returning home and of engaging in prostitution.
Each year, at least 100,000 children are victimized through commercial sex and prostitution within the United States. Particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking are runaway children, an estimated 33% of them are lured into prostitution within the first 48 hours of leaving home. Unfortunately, victims of sex trafficking, including children, are commonly overlooked in most state and federal efforts to respond to the brutal crime.
National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children, the definitive study of episodes of missing children, found that of the children who are victims of non-family abduction, runaway or throwaway children, the police are alerted by family or guardians in only 21 percent of the cases. In 79 percent of cases there is no report and no police involvement, and therefore no official attempt to find the child.
What will the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act do?
Sex Trafficking Block Grants
The bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs to award six one-year block grants, renewable up to three years, of $2,500,000 each to "eligible entities" in different regions of the United States to combat sex trafficking and provide shelter and services to child sex trafficking victims. Recipients must subgrant at least 50% of the grant funds to a qualified NGO to provide shelter and services to victims of child sex trafficking; the remainder of the grant funds can be used to improve investigations and prosecutions of sex trafficking crimes. Grant funds may be used for:
-Temporary or long-term shelter for minor victims of sex trafficking
-24 hour emergency social services response to minor victims of sex trafficking
-Clothing and daily necessities for minor victims of sex trafficking
-Case management, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services for minor victims of sex trafficking
-Legal services for minor victims of sex trafficking
-Specialized training on sex trafficking
-Salaries for law enforcement officers (percentages of a salary paid for by grant funds shall be at least as high as the percentage of time dedicated to sex trafficking cases involving minors)
-Salaries for state and local prosecutors Investigation and trial expenses
Outreach and education programs
-Deterrence and prevention of sex trafficking of minors
-Treatment programs for those charged with solicitation of prostitution when treatment is an appropriate alternative to incarceration (which would not include those charged with solicitation of a minor).
Eligible Entity- An "eligible entity" to apply for the block grants is a state or local government unit that: (1) has significant criminal activity involving the sex trafficking of minors; (2) has demonstrated cooperation between state and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers in addressing sex trafficking of minors; (3) provides that, under the multidisciplinary plan, a minor victim of sex trafficking will not be required to collaborate with law enforcement in order to receive the services funded by the grant; and (4) has developed a multi-disciplinary plan to combat the sex trafficking of minors that includes:
- a shelter for minor victims of sex trafficking;
- rehabilitative care to minor victims of sex trafficking;
- specialized training for law enforcement officers and social service providers;
- prevention, deterrence and prosecution of sex trafficking offenses;
- cooperation agreements with organizations serving runaway and homeless youth;
- law enforcement protocols to screen all individuals arrested for prostitution for victimization through sex trafficking
Evaluation of grant funded programs - DOJ is directed to contract with an experienced academic or non-profit organization to conduct an annual evaluation of the programs' effectiveness. The Inspector General will conduct an audit of all grants in 2012 and 2013.
Enhancements to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) System
This non-enforceable section of the bill encourages the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance the NCIC database system to designate minors who are reported missing three times in one-year are endangered juveniles within the database and to provide a visual cue in the database to assist law enforcement in immediately recognizing the youth as an endangered child.
Why do we need to pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act?
Sex trafficking is a complex and varied criminal problem that requires a multi-disciplinary, cooperative solution. Reducing trafficking will require the Government to address victims, pimps, and johns; and to provide training specific to sex trafficking for law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and child welfare, public health, and other social service providers.
Human trafficking is a criminal enterprise that imposes significant costs on the economy of the United States. Government and non-profit resources used to address trafficking include those of law enforcement, the judicial and penal systems, and social service providers. Without a range of appropriate treatments to help trafficking victims overcome the trauma they have experienced, victims will continue to be involved in crime, unable to support themselves, and continue to require Government resources rather than being productive contributors to the legitimate economy.
Many domestic minor sex trafficking victims are younger than 18 years old and are below the age of consent. Because trafficking victims have been forced to engage in prostitution rather than willfully to committing a crime, these victims should not be charged as criminal defendants. Instead, these victims of trafficking should have access to treatment and services to help them escape and overcome being sexually exploited, and should also be allowed to seek appropriate remuneration from crime victims' compensation funds.
What you can do to help?
Please write to and/or call your U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators and President Obama and tell them to pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011 (S.596). Also please ask your U.S. Representatives, and U.S. Senators to co-sponsor the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act.
Also please sign the petition to pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act.
Sarah Robin started this petition with a single signature, and now has 43,429 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.