Senator Grove and I met in my office to discuss SB 14. The meeting was productive and the Senator and I believe there is a pathway forward for the bill.
Our respective staffs did discuss suggested amendments to SB 14 on July 7, 2023, but Senator Grove declined the suggestions.
I believe that preventing crime in the first place should be the goal of the State Legislature. And the use of a Three Strikes type bill has never been a deterrent to any type of crime.
Just focusing on the punishment aspect of a crime in any given policy removes the victim from the crime. Justice can only prevail if the victim has a pathway to healing.
I am committed to protecting victims of sex trafficking, especially child victims. The lived experience of victims is traumatic and horrific.
California already punishes child sex traffickers severely. Activating and utilizing these laws has at times been underutilized within our courts and law enforcement systems possibly due to a lack of knowing what laws are on the books.
Human trafficking of minors for sex is punishable by up to life in prison, and several sentencing enhancements may be applied depending upon the nature of the crime. Those convicted are also required to register as sex offenders.
Assembly Democrats recognize that significant resources are still needed to stop trafficking before it happens, while ensuring that, when it does happen, not only are offenders brought to justice and appropriately punished but victims have the resources they need to meaningfully recover.
The Assembly this year passed SB 376 and AB 1740 to assist victims. SB 376 allows human trafficking victims to have an advocate and support person present when interviewed by law enforcement to make sure that their rights are protected. AB 1740 adds facilities that provide pediatric care to the list of places that must have posted information relating to slavery and human trafficking, including information regarding nonprofit organizations that a person can call for services or support. The Assembly also has provided $46 million in grant funding in this year’s budget for prevention efforts and services to human trafficking victims, with additional funding going specifically to commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC).
Unfortunately, the Three Strikes Model, which SB 14 is designed after, focuses only on punitive actions and does nothing for victims. Spending billions of dollars on punishment means those dollars are unavailable to help victims and prevent the crime from happening in the first place. Criminals already take up a disproportionate amount of funding—spending more to punish more is a poor use of state resources.
SB 14 was granted reconsideration so that I, as chair of the Public Safety Committee, could work together with the author and committee staff to find a way to move forward that respects and protects victims and effectively deters crime.