This girl was rescued due to outstanding work by the Providence police, the Northeast Innocence Lost Task Force and the FBI. A Providence police officer stayed with her while she waited in the emergency room, trying to find out the real story. The girl, who was suicidal, was using a fake name and ID. The man who is her alleged trafficker has enough warrants out to keep him in prison for as long as it takes to get the facts.
The Journal editorial has one answer to the problem of exploitation– arrest prostitutes. This is essentially what two proposed bills will allow. Although stripping is not legally prostitution, and amending the employment laws to ban minors from working in a hazardous environment has precedent and should easily pass, ‘close the loophole’ is the answer.
The Journal endorses bill H 5044A which is an arrest bill with anti-trafficking language added. (follow the link to view the bill). The Senate has a competing bill that is opposed by the police because the penalties are not strong enough.
I think both bills are trying to deal with a confusion about what we are doing. Are we rescuing victims, or punishing lawbreakers?
Should we be arresting victims of crime? Is prison a safe place for troubled people? A guard at the Wyatt Detention Center plead guilty today for having sex with an inmate. How much ‘force and coercion’ is possible in that situation?
Years of political and legal advocacy for victims of domestic violence led to a practice of law enforcement that allowed a police officer to treat a boyfriend beating as a real crime worth investigating. Years of advocacy for missing and exploited children made possible the teamwork that led to the arrest of a probable trafficker. There is public support for investigating and prosecuting these kinds of crimes.
The first year of work by the Coalition Against Human Trafficking led to the passage of a bill against human trafficking--one that mandates up to 30 years in prison for crimes such as those alleged against this teenage girl.
But no sooner was this bill passed then we were told that it had no teeth and was worthless. Closing the loophole became the only answer.
I’m not a lawyer, but I hope there is a good prosecutor to go after this guy. I hope the girl has some good legal advice. And I wonder why we have a brand-new anti-trafficking law that no one seems interested in enforcing.