Wyden, Cornyn Introduce Bill to Combat Sex Trafficking of Minors
Creates Shelters to Assist Women and Young Girls in Escaping Sexual Slavery; Provides Law Enforcement Tools to Put Pimps and Traffickers Behind Bars
Washington, D.C. – Flanked by law enforcement, social service professionals and advocates fighting the sex trafficking of minors, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced legislation today to put an end to the modern sexual slavery that claims the innocence of more than 100,000 American girls and young women each year. The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011 is a pilot program that will create six shelters throughout the country providing a safe haven for minors who are being trafficked and sold into sexual slavery. The bill also gives law enforcement the tools to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate the real criminals -- the pimps and traffickers.
“It is an unrelenting fact that sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in this country and efforts to protect these young girls from the cycle of violence and exploitation are sorely lacking,” Wyden said. “Senator Cornyn and I believe that even one young girl sold into sexual slavery is unacceptable and we have reintroduced legislation that will give victims the means to break from their oppressors and law enforcement the means to catch and incarcerate the criminals who exploit them. We were minutes away from passing this legislation last Congress and believe that our goals will soon be realized.”
“Our nation must remain committed to ending the scourge of domestic minor sex trafficking. This legislation will provide valuable assistance to state and local governments on the front lines of battling organized criminal syndicates and violent gangs that traffic humans for labor and sex,” said Cornyn. “I am proud to partner with Senator Wyden on this important bipartisan effort.”
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and Victims Support Act authorizes block grants of $2-2.5 million per year to six locations deemed to have significant sex trafficking activity and have a workable plan to provide comprehensive services to sex trafficking victims – including the establishment of a shelter facility -- and demonstrated participation from all levels of law enforcement, prosecutors and social service providers.
The block grants have the option of renewal for two additional years and can be used to fund:
· A shelter for trafficking victims;
· Clothing and other daily needs in order to keep victims from returning to the street;
· Victims' assistance counseling and legal services;
· Education or job training classes for victims;
· Specialized training for law enforcement and social service providers;
· Police officer salaries - patrol officers, detectives, investigators;
· Prosecutor salaries, and other trial expenses;
· Investigation expenses - wire taps, expert consultants, travel, other "technical assistance"
· Outreach, education, and prevention efforts, including programs to deter offenders.
Because children reported missing have been found to be at the greatest risk for becoming involved in sex trafficking, the bill also requires state child welfare agencies to promptly report information on missing and abducted children to law enforcement authorities and requires law enforcement authorities to notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) when a child is missing from state care.