Legislation Seeks to Raise Awareness, Assist Victims & Protect Vulnerable Populations
It is estimated that, at any given time, there are 24.9 million worldwide victims of human trafficking. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. These horrific crimes, which rely on the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations for personal or commercial gain, are a form of modern-day slavery.
The Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee on Thursday, led by Chairwoman Shanique Speight, took action to bolster New Jersey’s protections against human trafficking by advancing a bipartisan-sponsored bill package that aims to keep New Jersey communities safe.
“Human trafficking is one of the most heinous, reprehensible crimes currently threatening public safety. To rob someone of their free will and subject them to unknown horrors in the form of sex trafficking or forced labor is despicable and inhumane,” said Speight (D-Essex). “That is why addressing this issue is a top priority for the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee. We must make New Jersey a place where all residents are protected from human trafficking.”
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, between 2007 and 2020 there were 1,648 reported cases of human trafficking in New Jersey.
The legislation would expand existing prevention efforts to address the vulnerabilities of women of color, raise awareness about these crimes, and make grants available to provide services for human trafficking survivors.
“This legislative package builds on existing statewide efforts to combat human trafficking,” said Speight. “With these bills, we can provide our communities with valuable information about human trafficking while working to safeguard our vulnerable residents and prevent these crimes from continuing.”
The package includes the following bills:
- A-1727 (Speight, Reynolds-Jackson, Verrelli): Establishes pilot program in certain municipalities to make grants available to non-profit organizations to perform outreach and provide services to victims of human trafficking.
- A-1728 (Speight, Reynolds-Jackson, McKnight): Expands duties of Commission on Human Trafficking to prevent human trafficking in women and children of color.
- A-2123 (Munoz): Requires Attorney General to establish educational and public information program concerning State and federal crimes of human trafficking; appropriates $75,000.
- A-3089 (Benson, Haider, Spearman): Provides for lifetime disqualification from operating commercial motor vehicle and transportation network company vehicle for persons convicted of human trafficking.
- ACR-81 (Murphy): Directs the State Commission on Investigations to examine human trafficking activity at certain places of business.