Because the California State Legislature just doesn’t get it, a new, powerful initiative has been prepared for the November 2012 California general election ballot. Proposition 35 will strengthen penalties against human trafficking and update Megan’s Law for the 21st Century. I am calling on the good citizens of California to support Proposition 35. Californians are very clear about where they stand on criminal justice and victims rights issues and Proposition 35 is yet another opportunity to make good policy.
In 1994, the Three Strikes and You’re Out ballot initiative (Proposition 184) passed overwhelmingly because the law abiding citizens of California were sick and tired of coddling career criminals. The result was a dramatic reduction in crime. Efforts by professional politicians to weaken the Three Strikes law have failed miserably. Jessica’s Law (Prop. 83) passed by a similar margin in 2006, because Californians wanted greater monitoring of sex offenders and harsher prison sentences for child molesters.
Californians also enjoy some of the most expansive and forward thinking victim’s rights in the USA because of voter demands. In 1982, California voters passed the country’s first Victims Bill of Rights (Prop. 8) that, among other things, granted crime victims the right to be notified of, attend, and to state their views at, sentencing and parole hearings. Marsy’s Law (Prop. 9), which was passed by voter initiative in 2008 expanded upon those rights by adding new protections and safeguards for victims of violent crime.
Two overlooked areas of concern addressed by Prop. 35 are human trafficking, and online predation. Prop. 35 will increase prison terms for human traffickers and increase fines for human traffickers up to $1.5 million to fund victim services. It will remove the need to prove force to prosecute sex trafficking of a minor as well as mandate human trafficking training for law enforcement. Sex traffickers will be required to register as sex offenders, and all sex offenders will be required to disclose Internet accounts and identifiers. Finally Prop. 35 will prohibit the use of sexual history to impeach or prove criminal liability of trafficked victims.
According to the Trafficking in Victims Protection Act, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 2000, human sex trafficking occurs when, “a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.” Between 1.6 and 2.8 million children run away annually in the U.S., half of which are girls. Within 48 hours of hitting the streets, one third of these children are lured or recruited into the underground world of prostitution or pornography. The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12-14. For boys, the entry age is 11-13. These harrowing statistics provide broad justification for Prop. 35, because to turn our backs on the tens of thousands of children being trafficked in California is simply another form of victimization.
Sex offender registration and community notification, otherwise known as Megan’s Law was adopted by all 50-states in the late 90s. Megan’s Law is based on the premise that convicted sex offenders pose a threat to society and that the public deserves to know when they are in the community. When Megan’s Law was enacted the Internet was not the ubiquitous presence that it is today. Prop. 35 requires registered sex offenders to provide Internet email addresses, social networking profiles and other online identifiers so that social networking sites can scour relevant profiles from their online communities. The concept of convicted sex offenders including their Internet identifiers as a component of the sex offender registration process was successfully legislated in New York in 2008 and has thus far been responsible for removing more than 24,000 sex offender profiles from social networking sites.
I have joined Proposition 35 authors California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation, organizations representing more than 90,000 rank and file CA Peace Officers, and more than 80 nonprofit children’s advocacy organizations to support this important voter driven initiative.
We know that in the United States predators are fulfilling their voracious appetite for underage prostitution with at-risk American teenage children. This is a stain on our society. We also know that we can stop sexual predators from using the Internet to prey on innocent children by closing the Internet loophole of anonymity via this administrative procedure. Since the California State Legislature is unwilling to take these reasonable steps to create safe streets it is left to citizens like you and I to take control of our own future.