Senator Grove Introduces Bill to Fight Against Human Trafficking

Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) has introduced SB 1042, to strengthen public safety by including human trafficking in the lists of crimes that are defined as serious and violent under California law, making the crime a strike under the Three Strikes law.

“Human trafficking is a horrendous crime that has run rampant in our state,” said Senator Grove. “California has been the epicenter of the human trafficking problem for far too long. We must take action immediately to stop this modern-day slave trade and protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

There are an estimated 40 million people globally in the last decade that have been forced into the modern day form of slavery called human trafficking, a number that continues to grow. It is one of the world’s fastest growing and most lucrative crimes, generating around $150 billion around the world each year. Human trafficking victims often suffer from long-term physical and psychological trauma.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recognized the severe trauma human trafficking victims suffer and stated the following: “violence and psychological manipulation are common, and victims are at increased risk of injury, sexual assault, infectious diseases, substance misuse, untreated chronic medical conditions, malnutrition, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression and other mental health disorders, homicide, and suicide.”

“As a survivor of human trafficking, I have experienced the violence and trauma of this crime. The long term effects both mentally and physically take a great deal of effort and hard work to overcome. Anyone who sells human beings for any purpose needs to be held fully accountable and we need to send the message that it is not tolerated in the state of California or anywhere,” Said Jenna McKaye, a Human Trafficking Survivor.

California consistently ranks number one in the nation for the number of human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Law enforcement agencies and special task forces have been dedicated to stopping human trafficking across the state, yet the level of sophistication and organization of these trafficking rings will require stronger consequences for law enforcement to hold criminals accountable.

“Human traffickers exploit women and children through violence and manipulation, condemning them to lives of modern-day slavery and sexual abuse. This legislation will ensure that traffickers cannot avoid prison, will establish penalties for repeat offenders, and will prevent traffickers from receiving early parole,” said Cynthia Zimmer, Kern County District Attorney.

“It is time that California treats human traffickers as the serious and violent felons they are by ensuring that penalties for their crimes reflect the immeasurable damage done to trafficking victims.”

Last month, Senator Shannon Grove also introduced Senate Resolution 65 (SR 65) to recognize the month of January 2022 as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. In order to strengthen protections for survivors, Senator Grove’s bill SB 1042 would make human trafficking a strike, under the Three Strikes law.

“With the passing of this bill, perpetrators will finally realize that we have a voice, that they can no longer silence us, and that we are HUMAN not property.” said Odessa Perkins, a Human Trafficking survivor.

SB 1042 was introduced in the California State Senate this month and will next be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee.