Human trafficking measure clears Senate

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 15-Mar-2010

A measure to strengthen state laws aimed at stopping human traffickers was unanimously approved by the State Senate last week, and is now pending before the House of Representatives.

State Senator Clark Jolley, an Edmond Republican, is the author of Senate Bill 2258, which would increase penalties for stealing or destroying another person’s official identification papers or passport.

“Human trafficking is not a problem that just occurs in big cities far away,” he explained. In fact is has happened and is happening in Oklahoma: “We’ve seen news stories from our state about teens forced into prostitution, kids that were born and raised in this country. But with 17,000 victims of human trafficking lured to the United States every year, we also know the odds are high that some of those women and children end up in Oklahoma as well.”

According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is now the third-largest world-wide criminal activity, behind drugs and arms dealing. Jolley said the international victims are brought to the United States seeking legitimate work and a better life for themselves and their families, only to find themselves forced into virtual slavery; often in the sex trade including prostitution and pornography.

“Their captors will hold or destroy their passports and other identification to prevent them from leaving. That’s one of the issue my legislation addresses,” Jolley said. “The bill would also better publicize an emergency hotline number so that victims can get the help they need to regain their freedom, and that will help all victims, whether they are from right here in our own state or from another country.”