Senate Passes Greenleaf Legislation to Fight
12, 2013- Hanson Quickel
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed legislation introduced by
State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf (R, Montgomery, Bucks) to fight human
trafficking in Pennsylvania. Human
trafficking is the modern practice of slavery in which victims are forced into
labor or sexual servitude under the threat of force or coercion.
trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world
generating over $32 billion annually. It
is estimated that over 20 million people are currently being trafficked world-wide. In the US, it is estimated that over 100,000
children are in the sex trade. The total
number of men, women, and children being trafficked in US could reach into the hundreds
Pennsylvania, human trafficking is taking place in both urban and suburban
communities, and victims are commonly transported along the state’s interstate
highway system. Recent cases of
trafficking in the state range from forced labor at a nail salon in York, to a
spa in Camp Hill that served as a front for a brothel, and a Philadelphia
cleaning service that used forced labor.
Greenleaf said, “While we use the term ‘human trafficking,’ we are literally
talking about slavery. Ironically, the
Pennsylvania legislature was the first government in America to attempt to
abolish slavery in 1780 with the Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. Two-hundred and thirty-three years later we
are still fighting human slavery, though in a very different form.”
Greenleaf introduced SB 75 to address weaknesses in the state’s current law
that often allows traffickers to be charged with lesser crimes. The outdated statutory definition of human
trafficking does not include sexual servitude. SB 75 redefines trafficking to aid prosecutors and provides increased
criminal penalties for those convicted of human trafficking.
the victims of trafficking are often misidentified and charged with crimes, SB
75 offers a provision that would allow someone charged with a sex crime to
defend themselves in court with the argument that their crime was committed
under the threat of force that they could not resist.
an absolute crisis that victims of trafficking are being charged with crimes
they committed while under threat of force, while traffickers get off on lesser
charges,” said Greenleaf. “This has been
a gross miscarriage of justice in this state, but we are about to correct it.”
legislation further addresses victim protection and prevention of trafficking
by providing restitution to victims funded by seized property and creating the
PA Council for Prevention of Human Trafficking. The goal is to have all law enforcement and first responders able to
identify victims of human trafficking.
said, “Only a few years ago, no one was talking about human trafficking. I want to thank everyone who has rallied
behind this legislation and worked hard to raise awareness about this horrible
crime that was perceived for so long to be a foreign problem.”
will next be considered by the House of Representatives.