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Assembly Panel Advances Human Trafficking Bill

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. October 16, 2012

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Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle (photo by Phil Gregory)

A bill that would crack down on human trafficking is being considered by New Jersey lawmakers.

The measure would expand a law passed in 2005 by criminalizing additional activities, increasing protections for victims, requiring training for law enforcement, and raising public awareness.

Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle says victims of human trafficking are often children and women who are exploited for years and coerced into prostitution, forced labor, and drug activity.

 “When they finally have a chance to regain their freedom they are prosecuted for the crimes that they were forced to commit while the real perpetrators remain untouched. So for many victims there really is no hope, and hopefully we can change that by passing this legislation.”

Ingrid Johnson of Newark told an Assembly committee that her daughter was a human trafficking victim for two years and was coerced into prostitution after running away from home in 2004 when she was a teenager.

 “The passage of the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act will bring hope to the homeless and send a message to New Jersey’s victims of human trafficking that freedom, true freedom, is in the air and that help in the name of victims services and treatment that will lead them to a brighter future is on the way.”  

The Assembly’s Judiciary Committee voted to advance the measure. Michael Patrick Carroll was one of the two Republicans on the panel who abstained because of constitutional concerns about the provision of the bill that would hold publishers criminally liable for adult entertainment ads that depicted a minor.

“Especially with respect to the Net if you have a bulletin board or something along those lines were someone sticks one of these things, you know that you published that site and this is on it. The fact that you it’s published even if you don’t what is published is a crime.”

The legislation has not yet been considered in the state Senate.

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