CARSON CITY, Nev. — State lawmakers continued their tough stance against sex trafficking Monday, introducing two bills aimed at raising awareness of the problem and helping victims.
Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle, D-Sparks, and Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, introduced the measures during the first of two floor sessions on the deadline day for individual legislators’ bills to be introduced in both houses.
“We need to address things to help the victims. My last session it was the adult victims where their sentencing and convictions were vacated,” Hambrick told The Associated Press after the floor session. “Now we have to go after the care and mental health of the victims, particularly the child victims.”
AB338, sponsored by Hambrick, has the state come up with a network of counseling programs to help trafficking victims — particularly children — and it requires state agencies to raise awareness of the problem in Nevada. It also requires operators of public transit facilities and rest areas or truck stops to display signs with information about the National Human Trafficking Hotline available to victims currently being trafficked.
Sprinkle’s bill, AB311, creates the Contingency Account for Victims of Human Trafficking within the state general fund. Money would be allocated to services for assisting trafficking victims in their recovery. The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee would oversee the funds and how money is spent.
Private individuals, charities and nonprofits would be able to donate to this fund, and any remaining balance at the end of each year would not go back into the state general fund, but instead rollover to the next year’s account.
The bills are the latest of several introduced in the Nevada Legislature that deal with sex trafficking. AB67, a comprehensive sex trafficking bill, tightens the criminal code on sex trafficking-related crimes. It also provides an avenue for victims to sue their captors in civil court for damages.
Camille Naaktgeboren, a sex trafficking survivor and now a professor of microbiology at the College of Southern Nevada, testified at a joint judiciary hearing in February about the need for legislation addressing the problem.
“I didn’t do it alone, I didn’t do it without being able to get away from my trafficker, and I didn’t do it without money being spent on fixing both the physical and psychological damage that was done,” Naaktgeboren said of her escape.
“Other victims deserve this chance, too,” she added.
Current pandering laws allow for a maximum prison sentence of five years if physical force is used and four years if physical force is not used on adults. For children, the maximums increase to 20 and 10 years, respectfully.
AB67 increases the penalties across the board. Trafficking of a child would carry a minimum of 10 years behind bars and up to life in prison. For adults, traffickers could face up to 20 years in prison.
Both bills introduced Monday were referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.