Senate Judiciary Committee approves legislation continuing fight against human trafficking in Tennessee
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved several new anti-human trafficking laws that will raise awareness and help limit wide-ranging human trafficking activity currently taking place in the state. The General Assembly passed a series of bills addressing human trafficking after a 2011 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) report showed 73 of the state’s 95 counties have reported the crime within their borders. Tennessee emerged as a national leader in the fight against human trafficking as a result of those efforts, receiving an “A” ranking from Shared Hope International’s 2013 state report card. Tennessee scored 93.5%, the highest of any other state rated in the Protected Innocence Challenge.
This year, the anti-human trafficking coalition has filed 11 bills with the hope that they will toughen state laws, help survivors, and aid law enforcement in their quest to eradicate human trafficking in Tennessee. The package of bills seek to enhance penalties against those who promote or patronize the illegal act, give more rights to human trafficking victims, update state laws to help ensure offenders cannot escape prosecution, and mandates a statewide TBI training program that will raise awareness and spotlight victims’ needs and issues.
Among human trafficking legislation approved by the Judiciary Committee this week are:
- Senate Bill 1748 which prohibits asserting that the subject of the offense was a consenting minor or a law enforcement officer as a defense to promoting prostitution.
- Senate Bill 1660 which adds the offense of promoting prostitution to the list of offenses that constitute severe child abuse
- Senate Bill 1665 which calls for the TBI to implement courses of instruction for the training of law enforcement officers and state personnel in the handling of human trafficking
- Senate Bill 1656 which increases from 15 to 18 years old, the age of a minor against whom an offense of trafficking of a commercial sex act is a Class A felony
- Senate Bill 1657 which broadens the list of crimes for which a judge may grant the interception of electronic communications for evidence to trafficking for commercial sex acts, promoting prostitution, patronizing prostitution, especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, solicitation of a minor, and soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor/exploitation of a minor by electronic means.