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4/15/2016 Senate OKs Coyne’s comprehensive human trafficking bill
STATE HOUSE – The Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne to help prevent human trafficking and apprehend its perpetrators in Rhode Island and across the country.

The Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking (2016 S-2413aa), which passed the Senate yesterday, would bring Rhode Island’s human trafficking laws in line with national standards as a means to help authorities around the country crack down on a nefarious underground industry that, by definition, generally involves crossing state lines.

“Rhode Island has been working hard in recent years to put an end to human trafficking within our own state. But because human trafficking investigations usually involve a victim who has been brought far from home to be forced into some kind of service, these cases often involve more than one state. They get complicated when Rhode Island’s human trafficking laws are different from those of the other states involved. My legislation would make our laws mirror a national model that other states are also adopting to help us work together so we can be more effective in stopping this abominable crime and rescue its victims,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).

The legislation, which was drafted by the Uniform Law Commission and has been adopted by seven other states so far, would establish penalties for human trafficking for sexual servitude, forced labor and commercial sexual activity.

The bill makes trafficking of a minor a felony punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $40,000. Trafficking of an adult would be punishable by up to 20 years year in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000.

Those patronizing a minor for sexual servitude would also be guilty of a felony and subject to up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000. Those who patronize an adult victim of sexual servitude would face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Additionally, the bill promotes partnerships in the fight against human trafficking, elevates public awareness of the problem of human trafficking and fosters development of coordinated victim services. The bill would establish a council on human trafficking to coordinate prevention efforts and establish programs to assist victims. It would also make victims eligible for compensation under the criminal injuries compensation act.

Senator Coyne, a retired State Police lieutenant, said she sponsored the legislation because it will better enable investigators and prosecutors to capture and punish those who commit human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a widespread problem in the United States and Rhode Island, and it takes an enormous toll on the lives of its victims, many of whom are very young. Enhancing Rhode Island’s ability to coordinate with other states is an important way to ensure that perpetrators of this terrible act are not able to slide through the cracks caused by differences in states’ laws. We owe it to their victims to do our very best to bring them to justice and to prevent others from being victimized in the future,” she said.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence), Sen. Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5, Providence), Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston). It will now go to the House of Representatives, where companion legislation (2016-H 7527) has been introduced by Rep. Doreen Costa (R-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter).            

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923