In its recent approval of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, the United States Senate adopted bi-partisan provisions provided by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Feinstein that seek to strengthen law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute all who commit sex trafficking crimes, particularly the buyers of sex acts from trafficking victims. Enforcement efforts often focus only on prosecuting the sellers of these acts because of challenges in prosecuting buyers. The United States House of Representatives is now considering a similar bill authored by Representative Ted Poe (R-TX).
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has repeatedly supported efforts to address Human Trafficking, which includes Child Sex Trafficking. Some of these efforts include:
- A county-wide interagency response model to assist victims, collect data and provide training to all agencies who serve these victims;
- A Child Sex Trafficking Task Force that includes law enforcement, service providers, health officials, advocates, and survivor organizations, co-chaired by the Department of Children and Family Services and Probation Department;
- Access for law enforcement to guest registries for motels that are believed to host child sex-trafficking activities;
- Mandatory training to foster family agencies, group homes and certified foster parents on sex trafficking;
- Wraparound mental health services to provide youth with vital mental health, public health and social services to provide an appropriate level of trauma care and treatment to vulnerable youth;
- A first-responders protocol that involves law enforcement, mental health, medical care services, and child protective services to effectively serve these victims;
- The First Step Diversion Program administered by the District Attorney which diverts minors who are victims of human sex trafficking; and
- Specialized training for Mental Health providers that uses Evidenced Based Practices proven to be effective in treating trafficked victims.
In addition, my motion with Supervisor Hilda Solis will send a 5-signature letter in support of a grant that the Sheriff’s Department is seeking to create a law enforcement human trafficking task force in partnership with Citizens to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST).