Proposition 35 expands the definition of human trafficking and imposes tougher penalties on those convicted. According to the state’s official voter’s guide, this measure defines crimes related to the creation and distribution of obscene materials depicting minors as a form of human trafficking.
Federal law defines trafficking in persons as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery;” or “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”
Prop. 35 will increase penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences up to 15 years to life for sex traffickers, and fines of up to $1,500,000 with the proceeds being used for victim services and law enforcement. It will also require persons convicted of trafficking to register as a sex offender; to provide information to local police or sheriff’s departments regarding their Internet provider and such identifiers as email addresses, user names, screen names, or other personal identifiers for Internet communication activity.
The proposal also requires human trafficking training for police officers and prohibits evidence that a victim engaged in sexual conduct (prostitution) from being used against them in court proceedings.
Proponents believe voting yes on Prop. 35 will impose more severe criminal penalties for human trafficking such as an additional five-year prison term for each previous conviction an offender has. In the state’s official voter’s guide, Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County district attorney and national rights advocate, writes “Sex traffickers prey on the most vulnerable in our society. They get rich and throw their victims away.” According to proponents, Prop. 35 will end this and hold traffickers accountable and increase their punishments.
Opponents feel that if the proposition is approved, young victims can be criminalized for being forced to engage in trafficking activity instead of being protected from it, leading to more exploitation, and can actually threaten innocent people in the process.