Sacramento, California—Senator Shannon Grove has taken a crucial step in the fight against sex trafficking by introducing Senate Bill 14 (SB 14) in California. This bill seeks to redefine the legal status of sex trafficking of minors as a serious offense under California law, ensuring that it becomes a strike offense under the Three Strikes law. With this legislative proposal, California aims to bolster protections for victims of sex trafficking and address the alarming prevalence of this heinous crime.
Senate Bill 14, aims to close a critical gap in California’s legal framework surrounding sex trafficking. Currently, sex trafficking is categorized as a non-serious offense, preventing it from being considered a strike under the Three Strikes law. This classification fails to fully acknowledge the gravity of this crime and the profound impact it has on victims.
In 2022, the remains of 16-year-old Tioni Theus, who was suspected to be a victim of sex trafficking in South Central, were discarded from a moving vehicle near the on-ramp of the 110 freeway, in close proximity to a known sex trafficking area.
Ruthey Smith’s mother and family have been fervently seeking answers since the young mother vanished after being last seen on Figueora in South Central. They have had no contact with her for over a year. Senator Grove’s proposed bill aims to tackle these persistent issues of young girls being trafficked from marginalized communities.
SB 14 addresses this pressing concern by amending the Penal Code to include sex trafficking of minors in the list of serious crimes under California law. By doing so, the bill ensures that perpetrators who engage in the trafficking of minors face stricter consequences.
SB 14 classifies human trafficking as a strike offense, subjecting those convicted of this crime to the same penalties applied to other serious offenses.
According to data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, California consistently ranks as the state with the highest number of reported human trafficking cases in the United States.
Recognizing the severity of this issue, the California Attorney General has aptly described human trafficking as “modern-day slavery,” noting that it is a rapidly expanding criminal enterprise with an estimated annual worth of $150 billion globally. Moreover, this illicit industry thrives on the exploitation of the most vulnerable populations.
In South Central Los Angeles, along Figueroa Street, a prominent area has emerged as a significant hub for sex trafficking. Disturbingly, women, as well as young Black and Brown girls, can be observed clad in scanty attire or even partially nude, resembling the atmosphere of a strip club.
These distressing scenes unfold in broad daylight, with young children inadvertently exposed to these sights as they commute home from school accompanied by their families. Despite numerous disappearances of young women in the community, the City of Los Angeles has implemented minimal measures to address or mitigate these alarming sex trafficking zones within the inner city.
The introduction of SB 14 is a significant milestone in California’s ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking and protect its victims. By recognizing the urgent need for enhanced legal measures, Senator Grove and fellow advocates are taking a crucial step towards the fight against sex trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable populations.
Senate Bill 14 strengthens protections for victims and sends a powerful message that California is committed to combating human trafficking and standing against modern-day slavery. As SB 14 progresses, it holds the potential to contribute significantly to the global fight against sex trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable populations.
California Senate Bill 14, aimed at combatting sex trafficking and strengthening protections for victims, has garnered significant support from various community and political entities. Notable endorsements include the California District Attorneys Association, as well as multiple county district attorney’s offices such as Fresno, Kern, Monterey, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara, Tulare, and Ventura.
Additionally, official organizations backing the bill include 3Strands Global Foundation, Bakersfield Crisis Pregnancy Center, Bridge Network, California Capitol Connection, California Catholic Conference, California Family Council, Concerned Women For America, Cornerstone Synergy, Crime Victims United, Empowerment (Dess Perkins Foundation), Flood Bakersfield Ministries, and countless others.
The breadth of support highlights the shared commitment to addressing sex trafficking and championing the well-being of vulnerable individuals in California.