Continuing his effort to protect children and others from serious crime, Governor Sean Parnell today signed legislation strengthening penalties for human trafficking. House Bill 359, introduced by the governor, makes it a serious felony for anyone to conspire to commit sex trafficking or human trafficking in the first degree. This legislation also raises the penalty for those who prey on and victimize Alaska's children.
"Human trafficking is not a victimless crime," Governor Parnell said. "Criminals prey on young women, vulnerable men, and underage girls and boys. Runaways are particularly at risk in our state. Anyone who believes this is a victimless crime just hasn't seen the terrible devastation it causes. These crimes violate every standard of human decency."
HB 359 will change terminology used to describe an offender's conduct as sex trafficking rather than promoting prostitution. The bill allows the state to confiscate property used in connection with committing the crime of prostitution when the defendant commits the act with a child victim. It also allows the use of simultaneous two-way video conferencing in cases where a witness is unable to testify in a courtroom.
The governor recognized Senator Lesil McGuire and Representative Anna Fairclough who were instrumental in the bill's passage.
Governor Parnell also signed Senate Bill 86 into law. SB 86, introduced by the governor, strengthens the laws against financial exploitation and allows expedited emergency protection orders for seniors. The legislation is designed to help vulnerable adults who are unable to protect their own interests. The governor thanked Representative Bill Stoltze for carrying the bill.
Senate Bills 210 and 135 were also signed into law. SB 210 addresses assault and other harm to child victims. The legislation increases the age threshold for which offenders can be charged with assault in the third degree for causing physical harm to a child, or an adult who causes physical injury to the child on more than one occasion. The bill also creates a task force on crimes of human and sex trafficking to be headed by the attorney general.
SB 135 permits prosecutors and judges to consider a victim's right to a timely disposition of their case when deciding whether to allow continuances. The legislation will ensure that victims are notified of any requests or motions that could substantially delay speedy prosecution of their case.