Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt today announced they will ask the Kansas Legislature to strengthen the state's human trafficking statutes, with an emphasis on protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation.
"With this important legislation, Kansas will take great strides forward in the fight against modern-day slavery," Gov. Brownback said. "This will not only strengthen our ability to severely punish traffickers, it will give us valuable new tools to protect vulnerable young victims so they can have hope of a new life."
In developing the proposed legislation, the Governor and Attorney General sought input from law enforcement agencies, social service providers and key stakeholders.
"This proposal will significantly strengthen our ability to protect Kansas children from sex traffickers," Attorney General Schmidt. "It will put in place a strong foundation to support child victims and to break the cycle of exploitation."
The bill establishes a Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund to provide support for those victimized by human trafficking. The fund will be paid for through mandatory fines on people convicted of human trafficking and related sex crimes.
The bill also provides for special Child in Need of Care procedures for children who have been subjected to human trafficking and expedites expungement procedures for those convicted of selling sexual relations if they were subject to coercion.
A new crime of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child is created in the bill, increasing the penalties of the existing crimes of patronizing a prostitute and promoting prostitution of persons under the age of 18. Increased penalties and sentencing enhancements are included for a number of other related crimes.
The bill also includes additional training and tools for law enforcement to combat human trafficking. It will be introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.