A bill aimed at toughening Florida’s human trafficking laws will become law in a few months, following Governor Rick Scott’s signing. It increases the penalties for soliciting another for prostitution.
Prostitution is seen as one of the greatest drivers of human trafficking in Florida.
“So, I’ve said, all along that one of the things that many people would acknowledge, but would never do anything about, is the demand for the purchase of sex,” said Rep. Ross Spano R-Dover). “So, until you address that part of that education, you can never fully address the problem of human trafficking.”
Spano is the House sponsor of a newly signed measure enhancing the criminal penalties for solicitation. A first offense is now bumped up to a first degree misdemeanor from a second degree misdemeanor. The offender must also spend a minimum of 10 days in jail, perform 100 hours of community service, and attend an educational program on the negative effects of human trafficking and prostitution. It also allows a victim to petition the court to expunge their criminal history relating to human trafficking.
“I think it’s going to make a positive impact,” added Spano. “And, if it doesn’t, we’ll make another run at it, and we’ll do whatever we have to do to make sure that people—men primarily—understand what it means and the impact that it has when they take actions that effect other people’s lives.”
It goes into effect October 1st. So, do a couple public records exemptions that protect the identity and location of human trafficking victims in law enforcement investigative records.
“Because traffickers consider and perceive their victims to be chattel or property, when they’re taken away from them, they hunt them down, and try to get them back,” continued Spano. “So, this will actually protect the addresses and identifying information of these safe houses and public records, so the traffickers can’t find those locations and find their victims.”
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