SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — A state bill that hoped to curb human trafficking failed to pass out of committee in the California Senate. That bill, SB 1042, would have increased the penalties for trafficking and re-classified it as a violent crime under the law.
Human trafficking has not been considered a violent or serious crime under California law, which local organizers and legislators have been pushing to change.
The committee overseeing the bill heard statements from trafficking survivors, including some from Kern County.
"Maybe if it had been, maybe I would have felt safe and I would have reported it. Don’t I and all of the victims that are coming after me deserve to be free," asked human trafficking survivor Odessa Perkins.
Other local advocates say the bill would have deterred potential traffickers from seeking out new victims.
But those statements weren't enough to win over the public safety committee members and the bill failed to pass.
In submitting the bill, Senator Grove wrote: "California consistently ranks number one in the nation in the number of human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The California Attorney General notes that California is one of the largest sites for human trafficking in the United States, recognizes the serious nature of this crime, and has defined it as 'modern-day slavery.' Human trafficking is among the world's fastest-growing criminal enterprises and is estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global industry. It is a form of modern-day slavery that profits from the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations. SB 1042 will give a voice to the millions of victims that have suffered from this horrific abuse. This bill will fight to protect victims, strengthen prevention and increase the prosecution of those who buy and sell human beings. These horrendous acts should be deemed serious and violent crimes."
The organization Free to Thrive was opposed to the bill, saying "As direct service providers and organizations who interact and support survivors of human trafficking, we know that victims and survivors of human trafficking are often misidentified as perpetrators and arrested for human trafficking. Therefore, this bill will hurt victims and survivors, and it will not prevent traffickers from recruiting, grooming, and trafficking more victims while prior victims serve out long sentences on their behalf."
Now, at Senator Shannon Grove's request, the bill will be up for reconsideration.
23ABC is taking an in-depth look at the numbers regarding the issue here in California.
According to Human Trafficking Hotline, in 2020, there were more than 1,300 human trafficking cases reported in the state.
Of that number, 902 of the victims were adults, and 268 of them were children.
Additionally, more than 1,100 of those trafficked in 2020 were female, and 155 of them were male.
Lastly, sex trafficking made up 1,025 of the more than 1,300 cases reported that year.