With California ranked as one of the states with the worst problems of human trafficking, Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a raft of seven bills aimed at improving prosecution of the crime, whose victims are often forced into prostitution, domestic servitude and sweatshop labor.
A 2012 report by the U.S. State Department lists California, New York and Texas as the states with the most human trafficking activity, and says Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego are among the top 10 areas in the United States for the activity.
The governor approved a bill by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) that allows courts to authorize wiretaps for the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.
"Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery,” Mitchell said in a statement in support of SB 955. “The victims are frequently children of color and young women who have been forced into prostitution. They need our help."
The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the bill, citing privacy concerns from expanding the state’s wiretap authority.Another trafficking measure signed into law will allow someone who has been convicted of solicitation or prostitution to have that conviction set aside if the defendant can prove he or she was a victim of human trafficking. That measure is AB 1585 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville).
Brown also signed a Mitchell bill that allows sex trafficking prevention education in California's public schools. That bill is SB 1165.
Fines will be increased from $20,000 to $25,000 for people convicted of placing a minor into prostitution or furnishing a minor to another person for sex under legislation signed by the governor from Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance). His SB 1388 also allows mandatory penalties of two days to a year in jail for people convicted of knowingly soliciting a minor for prostitution.