SOUTH CAROLINA 2011 LEGISLATOR’S BRIEF: H3757
SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO CREATE ASSET FORFEITURE FOR CONVICTED HUMAN TRAFFICKERS
Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. Traffickers reap billions in profits by using force, fraud or coercion to rob victims of their freedom through labor or commercial sex. Experts estimate that there are a minimum of approximately 5,100 to 60,500 people trafficked into and within the U.S. each year, and an estimated 100,000 American children who are prostituted within the U.S. each year — a brutal form of human trafficking. It is a crime of increasing proportions, preys on the most vulnerable people, and is driven by one thing: profits for traffickers. South Carolina is at the top of the “dirty dozen,” the States with negligible laws to investigate and convict traffickers and buyers, and to provide victim services.
In South Carolina, victims of human trafficking include children, adults, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who are subjected to sex or labor trafficking. Sex trafficking occurs in pimp-controlled street prostitution, commercial-front massage parlors and strip clubs, and closed-network residential brothels. Increasingly, victims are advertised on popular internet sites. Labor trafficking victims are typically found in domestic servitude, agriculture and hospitality / tourism jobs. Victims of human trafficking face a horrific life that includes repeatedly being threatened, beaten, raped, starved, drugged, chained, locked up, and/or psychologically tortured. As of 2010, human trafficking became a Class A felony. It now needs to be enforced.
SC is a Source and Destination State and a Pass-Through State for Human Trafficking: Lack of awareness about the crime of human trafficking by the public and law enforcement in South Carolina drives a continued increase in human trafficking. Traffickers move victims around frequently to keep them isolated and under control. Interstate highways including I-85 and I-26 connect trafficking destinations. I-95 connects known trafficking hotspots of New York, DC, Atlanta, and cities in Florida. South Carolina is a trafficker’s dream pipeline. ICE, FBI, the US Attorney’s Office and SLED have made human trafficking among their top priorities since 2007. A 14-year old girl was South Carolina’s first trafficking case. Since then, law enforcement has been diligently uncovering more cases, and national and local tips have increased about possible trafficking on farms, in restaurants and nail spas, in such areas as Santee, Greenville, Greenwood, North Charleston, Charleston, Columbia, Conway, Myrtle Beach and rural areas of the State. House Bill 3757 will enable local law enforcement to complete the picture. At this time, they have little jurisdictional authority and the funding is short-lived. Yet local law enforcement is among the first to sight a situation and first on the spot.
The Scope of Human Trafficking and Profits:
- § In 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s anti-human trafficking efforts resulted in a record number of labor and sex trafficking cases filed in a single year, and collectively, the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices initiated 183 investigations, charged 82 defendants in 40 cases, and obtained 77 convictions involving human trafficking. Traffickers were ordered to pay restitution awards totaling approximately $4.2 million. § Through the DOJ’s Criminal Division and the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, convictions for domestic sex trafficking of children in the U.S. have resulted in the seizure of over $3 million in real property, vehicles, and monetary assets.
Asset forfeiture is an effective policy and has gained support at the federal and state level:
- § In 2008, Congress reauthorized the TVPA for the third time. It provides for mandatory forfeiture.
- § Twelve states include asset forfeiture under the mandatory penalties for human trafficking or provide courts with the option to impose asset forfeiture on those convicted of human trafficking.
Create Asset Forfeiture for Human Traffickers and Funds for Victims and Law Enforcement.
2011 SC Bill 3757 is sponsored by Reps. Hardwick, Hearn, Mitchell, Long, Erickson, Brady, Butler Garrick, Funderburk, Munnerlyn, Knight, Dillard, Cobb-Hunter and Parks. This legislation requires that all money, valuables, and property of a person convicted of human trafficking or felony extortion (labor trafficking) used in connection with, or gained from the crime, be forfeited to the State. Proceeds from seized assets will go into a fund which pays for critically needed victim services including attorney and court-related costs, prosecution of traffickers and law enforcement investigative costs for human trafficking cases, costs borne by the state task force, public education and outreach on human trafficking, and other elements of this Bill. Traffickers pay the Bill.
Please support SC Bill 3757 to end and prevent human trafficking in South Carolina.
Contact B.J. Houbion, ECCAHT, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843.357.7010, for more information.