This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
Proposition 35, the ballot initiative that seeks to broaden the definition of human trafficking and impose stiffer penalties on offenders, has accrued a long list of endorsements, from elected officials to law enforcement.
However, that list grew a littler shorter last week after SAGE Project, (Standing Against Global Exploitation), a Northern California-based group that works with victims of trafficking, rescinded its endorsement. The group’s board of directors said it had a change of heart after careful review of the measure and asked that the group’s name be removed from the Proposition 35 website.
The organization’s decision to take back its support is a serious matter and raises another question: If the ballot measure promises to provide much-needed tools to prosecutors, then why are some key advocates for human trafficking victims reluctant to throw their support behind it?
The answer may well be that the measure doesn’t quite deliver all that it promises. The list of groups that have remained noticeably silent include the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, or CAST, and the Polaris Project. CAST broke its silence when it released a statement to the Associated Press praising efforts that focus attention on the problem but noting that it worried about unintended consequences, including decreasing the amount of money available to survivors who seek civil damages.
The Times’ editorial board has similar concerns and did not endorse Proposition 35. The measure has too many flaws and would likely face constitutional challenges over rules of evidence and Internet privacy issues, not to mention that it would expand the sex registry in ways that could make it far less effective for the public and law enforcement.
Human trafficking is a very real and serious problem. Unfortunately, Proposition 35 doesn’t provide the answer.
[For the Record: 5:20 p.m. October 30: The SAGE Project (Standing Against Global Exploitations) was incorrectly identified as Stand Against Global Exploitation.]