OLYMPIA… Today Sens. Val Stevens and Jerome Delvin were pleased by the signing of legislation they sponsored to combat human-trafficking in Washington. Stevens and Delvin sponsored three pieces of a 12-bill package aimed at making it more difficult for traffickers to move children and other victims through the state as well as punish those found guilty of human trafficking.
After learning Washington is a hub for human trafficking mainly because of its international ports, the two Republican legislators have spent more than a decade fighting to eradicate the sale and purchase of human life.
“After ten years of legislative progress on this issue, there is still much work to do,” said Delvin, R-Richland. “This fight takes dedication and new legislation year after year, but it's a fight we are determined to win.”
The three pieces of legislation signed today are:
· Senate Bill 6258 would expand the criminal definition of "luring" unaccompanied minors to include transportation facilities after it was discovered many pimps use bus terminals to lie in wait for unaccompanied minors arriving in a new city.
· Senate Bill 6254 would address the cases of mentally-disabled individuals being taken advantage of by traffickers. Persons charged with prostitution must prove they were forced before they can be considered victims of human trafficking. This bill removes that requirement when the victim is mentally disabled.
· Substitute Senate Bill 6260 would increase the penalties for first-degree traffickers 10 times over, to $3,000, with each additional offense bringing an even higher cost.
“It's difficult to explain just how serious the problem of human trafficking is in our state. Statistics tell part of the story, but what hits home with us are the gut-wrenching stories we hear from victims who come to the Capitol,” said Stevens, R-Arlington. “During the past 10 years we've learned the only way to prevent human trafficking is to go after the lowlifes and, as we learn more about their tactics, respond with new laws.”