Increased penalties for human trafficking

By

May 28th, 2013

Lincoln, NE – Right now, a person who offers someone other than his or her spouse money in exchange for sex can be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to a year in jail.
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Under the proposal by Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill, the maximum fine would increase to $10,000, and jail time up to 5 years, if the person being asked for sex is less than 18 years old. In addition, people under 18 could not be charged with prostitution, but instead would be handled in the juvenile court system, which emphasizes rehabilitation, not punishment.

“These young women – and men – are wooed, oftentimes,” said McGill. “They’re not just taken like in a movie. That is the case sometimes. But there was a pimp for instance up in Papillion who was going to high school football games looking for vulnerable teenagers to woo and befriend and then to get them, manipulate them into selling themselves in prostitution. They are victims. They are not young people making this choice and our law really should not reflect that this is a choice they are willfully making,” said McGill.

The bill also requires an existing task force to recommend how to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking. It got first round approval on a vote of 25-0.

Senators also gave second-round approval to creating a pilot program to subsidize jobs for low-income people who qualify for welfare. It would use a million dollars a year in federal funds being held in a rainy day fund by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The money would be used to subsidize jobs for individuals for six months per person. For the first two months, the government would pay 100 percent of the wages; that would decline to 25 percent by the sixth month. When the measure was first debated Wednesday, Bellevue Sen. Sue Crawford, its sponsor, asked her fellow lawmakers for support.

“I hear people on this floor, in opposition to other bills to help low-income families, say that the best social program is a job,” said Crawford. “Well, if this is how you feel, then you should support this bill. It is a job – a job with a very temporary government subsidy at the front end,” said Crawford.

Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion said the bill was not the path to success:

“Hard work will advance you. Lack of hard work will put you on a government program,” said Kintner. “That’s what we’re talking about here – a government program. I assure you anyone that wants to work hard in a state with 3.8 (percent) unemployment will succeed.

The bill got first round approval Wednesday on a vote of 35-1. Nine senators, including Kintner, passed, which has the same effect as a no vote. On Thursday, senators gave the bill second-round approval on a voice vote, leaving it needing just one more approval before being sent to the governor.

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