Governor Mitch Daniels today signed SEA 4, a measure that will better protect children by making it easier to prosecute and penalize people who engage in human trafficking.
The bill was the first approved by Indiana lawmakers in the 2012 legislative session and will be in place for this year's Super Bowl in Indianapolis. In states that have hosted previous Super Bowls, organized crime groups have promoted underage prostitution to out-of-town visitors.
"The message we send today is "don't try it here.' Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis is where this practice ends," said Daniels. "Thanks to Senator Head and Attorney General Zoeller and those who brought this problem to our attention so we could act to give law enforcement officials the tools they need."
The bill closes loopholes in current law that allowed some forms of human trafficking to go unprosecuted. It also broadens penalties for those convicted of certain types of trafficking to a Class A felony, which is punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison.
The law allows prosecutors to bring charges against people who use force or fraud to make another person participate in sexual activity or those who promote the participation of children under the age of 16 in sexual activities regardless of whether force was used or consent given. The law makes it a felony to sell or transfer custody of a child under 16 for the purposes of participating in sexual conduct.
"I am grateful to the governor for his steadfast support of this bill," said Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport. "It is an important problem this week because of the Super Bowl, but on an ongoing basis because of its extent across the country. Now we have a better tool to fight it because of the hard work of a lot of people and that is a great thing."
Head was the Senate author and Rep. Greg Steurerwald, R-Danville, was the main sponsor in the House.
According to the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking, it is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 men, women and children are trafficked illegally into the United States each year.
Audio from the news conference may be found here: http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Audio/2012/013012audio.mp3
Video will be available later today on the governor's YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/INGovernor