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Calif. Voters Approve Stricter Penalties for Human Traffickers

Calif. Voters Approve Stricter Penalties for Human Traffickers

November 8, 2012 — California voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure (Proposition 35) that increases penalties for people convicted of human trafficking, the San Francisco Chronicle's "Politics Blog" reports (Tucker, "Politics Blog," San Francisco Chronicle, 11/6). About 81% of voters supported the measure, according to the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" (Kim, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 11/6).

Proposition 35 rewrites California law to clarify that children coerced into the sex trade are considered victims, not criminals. The measure also alters state law so that trafficking survivors cannot be prosecuted for engaging in sex work, nor can their involvement in the sex trade be used to attack their credibility in court.

In addition, the definition of trafficking will be expanded to include the creation and sale of child pornography, and convicted traffickers will be required to register as sex offenders (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/3).

The measure will make sex trafficking of a minor punishable by up to life in prison ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 11/6). It also increases the maximum fine for the offense from $100,000 to $1.5 million, with some of the money designated for organizations that support trafficking survivors.

Chris Kelly, a former Facebook executive who funded the measure, said that the vote "made the Internet a safer place for children, gave prosecutors the tools to go after human traffickers, and provided victims with greater access to services that will help them get a second chance at life" ("Politics Blog," San Francisco Chronicle, 11/6).