In a win for women and other victims of human trafficking, HB 262, The Safe Harbor Act, has passed the Ohio Senate. Following a vote of concurrence by the House, the bill will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Ohio has long had weak human trafficking laws and this bill moves them forward creating stricter penalties ’johns’ and protections for victims.
Introduced by Representative Teresa Fedor, The Safe Harbor Act does a several important things:
- Shields juvenile human trafficking victims from going to jail on prostitution charges.
- Establishes a fund to help victims. Money for this fund will come fromt he seized assets of the traffickers.
- Increases the penalty for trafficking to a first degree felony with a mandatory prison term for up to 15 years.
- Creates a felony charge for customers of prostitutes facing a possible if they knowingly pay for sex with someone who is 16 or 17 years old.
- Allow some victims to have their records expunged and require convicted traffickers to register as sex offenders.
- Allows victims to file civil charges against human trafficking perpetrators.
- Increases the public awareness programs regarding human trafficking.
- Creates training programs for peace officers in investigating and handeling human trafficking cases.