Comprehensive human trafficking bill becomes law
STATE HOUSE – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne and Rep. Shelby Maldonado to help prevent human trafficking and apprehend its perpetrators in Rhode Island and across the country has been signed into law.
The Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking (2017-S 0073Aaa, 2017-H 5300A), passed by the General Assembly June 27 and signed by the governor July 18, brings 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. It enacts a three-prong approach of strong penalties, protecting and assisting victims and improved public awareness and planning.
“Rhode Island has made great strides in recent years in addressing human trafficking, but there’s still much more to be done. Making our laws mirror a national model will better enable Rhode Island to work with other states so we can be more effective in stopping this abominable crime and rescuing its victims,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), who is a retired state police lieutenant. “Critically, this bill improves protections and services for victims, who should not be treated as criminals and deserve assistance, and it steps up our efforts to prevent trafficking by increasing awareness so the public will recognize and report suspected cases. This bill will put Rhode Island in a much better position to prevent trafficking, catch and prosecute perpetrators, and free victims and connect them to services that they need.”
Said Representative Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), “Rhode Island remains committed to fighting the deplorable practice of human trafficking in all its forms. This legislation will bring the state into alignment with a national model, allowing Rhode Island to work with other states to bring an end to this heinous crime. Even more importantly, it will increase understanding of this problem by promoting awareness.”
The legislation, which was drafted by the Uniform Law Commission and has been adopted by eight other states so far, 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 will be punishable by up to 20 years 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 will 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 and establishes a council on human trafficking to coordinate prevention efforts and establish programs to assist victims. It also makes victims eligible for compensation under the criminal injuries compensation act.
The legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Elaine J. Morgan (R-Dist. 34, Hopkinton, Richmond, Charlestown, Exeter, West Greenwich), Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), Sen. Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5, Providence), Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston), Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903