Proposition 35 opens debate about the need for stronger human trafficking laws in California

Some say it could have unintended consequences

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -  

Proposition 35 on the November ballot in California would increase prison sentences and fines for people convicted of human trafficking, but those against it said it’s an unnecessary law that could have unintended consequences.

People in favor of Proposition 35 said human traffickers force women and children to sell their bodies and the penalties they face should be stronger.

"They talk about what some of the women have to go through really it’s akin to slavery," said Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green.

Prop 35 would increase sentences for convicted human traffickers and could be as high as life in prison.

"These stronger provisions will perhaps deter this kind of behavior, but even if it doesn't deter it will punish appropriately the people who engage in these types of behaviors," Green said.

The Kern County chief deputy public defender said Prop 35 has a lot of problems.

"I think it really comes back to do we need this law. The existing laws are they strong enough right now and based on my experience it seems like they are," said Dominic Eyherabide, Chief Deputy Public Defender for Kern County.

People against Prop 35 said its poorly written and likely will be ruled unconstitutional if it passes. They said it takes away a number of defenses that could be used at trial.

"Consent, ignorance of age, the prior conduct would no longer be admissible. So I suppose the prosecutors like this law because it makes much easier to prosecute," Eyherabide said.

"The criminal system has a way of working so that justice prevails," Green countered.

Fines for human trafficking could be as high as one million dollars under Prop 35 and the money collected would go back to victims advocate group’s, prosecutors and police.

Those against 35 said that gives police and prosecutors an incentive to unfairly prosecute people under the law.

"I think that law maybe very well intended. I mean, none of us are for pimps or pandering, but I have a feeling that in application it’s going to go in areas we really didn't foresee," Eyherabide said.

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