October 21, 2014

Lawmakers target human trafficking in Wisconsin

Legislation being proposed at the Capitol would give police more tools to go after human trafficking.

State Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) says the bill is part of an initiative by the Department of Justice, law enforcement, and legislators to address a problem, which often targets young people. The Marathon Republican says “The FBI rescued 10 children from trafficking in the State of Wisconsin, and this was the second highest total out of all the states in the nation, and so this is an effort to try to tighten things up to maybe close some loopholes and throw a wider net out, and to deal with this issue.”

The Senator says the trafficking problem is bigger than many people realized, and something needs to be done to protect our children. “Many times, young people are lured into calling up and applying to an ad in the paper for modelling, for business, for jobs, for whatever, and they get to a place and they end up being taken in and maybe even drugged.”

The bill would give law enforcement the ability to go after property and materials used in trafficking, increase penalties for people involved, and give better definitions of the specific trafficking crimes. This includes expanding the definition of a “commercial sex act” in the statutes, so the ability to prosecute minors involved in trafficking operations is more limited. It would also allow minors have prostitution convictions vacated or expunged, and giving victims greater confidentiality rights.

Companion legislation is being circulated in the state Assembly and Petrowski says he hopes the bill will receive a hearing quickly. He says “hopefully we’ll get this through both houses and onto the Governor’s desk before spring.”

WSAU