A state senator said Friday he hopes to
fast-track legislation that would make it easier for police and prosecutors to
crack down on human trafficking in advance of the 2012 Super Bowl, which is
expected to attract more prostitution to Indianapolis.
Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, said Friday he
would introduce legislation aimed at closing loopholes that have allowed some
parts of the sex trade to go unprosecuted. Gov. Mitch Daniels, Attorney General
Greg Zoeller and other officials joined him for the
announcement, which comes just seven weeks before the NFL championship is to be
held in Indianapolis.
State attorneys general have reported an influx
of human trafficking has occurred in other cities that have hosted Super Bowls
and other large sporting events. Officials are particularly concerned about
"We must be realistic and candid about the
fact that organized criminals who exploit young women and children through
human trafficking have gravitated to such gatherings in other cities," Zoeller said in a statement. "Recognizing that
Indiana's existing statute is inadequate to this new threat and should be
updated to close loopholes, we make this extraordinary request to the General
Assembly to pass Sen. Head's bill within the short window before the Super
Head said Indiana's laws are tougher than most
states when it comes to human trafficking. But he said the state still earned a
D grade from Shared Hope International, a leading sexual-trafficking awareness
"I am determined to help us change that
during the upcoming legislative session," Head said.
The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the
Statehouse File by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of
NUVO followed up with Zoeller's office asking for
more specifics on the particular loopholes that exist in current law. Public
Information Officer Bryan Corbin kindly sent us the following response:
The bill that
Attorney General Greg Zoeller recommended that
Senator Randy Head has introduced in the Legislature would update the existing
law in three main ways:
- First, the existing statute makes it a
crime for a "parent, guardian or custodian" to sell or transfer a child for
purposes of prostitution or sexual conduct. Since trafficking typically is
committed by criminals who are unrelated to their victims, the statute needs to
be broadened to cover any person who victimizes a child in this way, not just a
parent or guardian; and the bill clarifies the wording to do that.
- Second, the bill would define the
crime of "promotion of human trafficking of a minor" so that prosecutors would
not have to prove "force or threat of force" against a child as an element of
the crime committed in order to obtain a conviction for that crime.
- Third, it
defines "promotion of human trafficking of a minor" to encompass both engaging
a child under 16 in forced labor and/or involuntary servitude, as well as
causing the child to engage in prostitution or participate in sexual
conduct.(The larger issue of
human trafficking involves more than sex trafficking, it also involves victims —
sometimes people in other countries — who are lured with promises of
escape from poverty and offers of jobs that turn out instead to be forms of
forced labor or exploitation.)
would also make other technical changes to the existing statute.
The bill is
scheduled for a Senate committee hearing Jan. 4.