John Lyon with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports on a legislative hearing focused on potential efforts to curtail the problem of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a growing problem in the U.S. that involves sexual abuse, forced prostitution and in many instances kidnapping.
In Arkansas, human trafficking has been reported in 69 cities.
Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, has drafted a 32-page bill on human trafficking and has requested an interim study in advance of the legislative session that starts in January. The study proposal will go before the state Legislative Council on July 20, but Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, said she wanted the committee that she chairs, the Senate Committee on Children and Youth, to start discussing the issue now.
James Dold of Polaris Project, a Washington-based organization
that fights human trafficking, testified that Arkansas’ 2005 law against human trafficking, which makes it a Class A felony, leaves room for improvement.
Dold said the existing law gives too broad a definition of human trafficking, does not include a provision allowing people convicted of human trafficking to be ordered to pay restitution and does not make a distinction between people who force victims into sexual slavery and people who facilitate human trafficking in other ways.
Meeks’ proposal, which is based on a model by Polaris Project, would address those issues.
You can read more from the hearing at this link.