Sens. Biden, Boxer and Rep. Wasserman Schultz Introduce Legislation to Combat Child Exploitation
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs and author of the landmark Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (DE), Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) were joined at a press conference today by the Surviving Parents Coalition to highlight new legislation to combat child exploitation. The legislation, called the Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2007, will help provide the federal leadership and resources to establish a national network of highly trained federal, state and local investigators to focus exclusively on child exploitation.
"We need to think of this as a war," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20). "A war we must wage against sex predators, a war for our children. This legislation would train federal, state and local police forces to lift the digital fingerprints left by child sex predators so they can be put behind bars."
"At the same time when the Internet has given children access to the world - it has also given the world access to our kids. This horrific and growing problem needs to be stopped," said Sen. Joe Biden. "We need to give law enforcement the funds and the tools to pull the plug on Internet predators."
Sen. Boxer said, "I will work side by side with Senator Biden on this important legislation, just as I worked with him on the Violence Against Women Act. Our children are our future and we must protect them. It's our job."
"This is landmark human rights legislation. This bill will do more to prevent the sexual assault of children than any other single act within Congress' reach. Thousands of children will be rescued," said Grier Weeks, Executive Director of the National Association to Protect Children.
The Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2007 takes a bold step forward in addressing the growing problem of child exploitation. The Department of Justice and the FBI have testified before Congress that child exploitation is growing rapidly. New investigative techniques have allowed law enforcement to identify nearly 500,000 individuals trafficking child pornography over the Internet. Due to the lack of resources at the Federal, state and local level, we are investigating only 2% of the known offenders. Research shows that if we were to investigate these cases we could rescue a victim of child exploitation thirty percent of the time.
The legislation will help create a strong nationwide network of highly trained law enforcement experts to track down these offenders and put them away. To coordinate these efforts, the bill will create an Office of Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction at the Department of Justice. Modeled after the highly successful Office of Violence Against Women, which has helped reduce domestic violence by 50% and rape by 60%, this office will develop and oversee a coordinated national strategy to address this problem. The bill also builds upon the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program to ensure that we have at least one cyber unit in each state dedicated to these cases.
Specifically, the legislation will authorize $1.05 billion over the next eight years for:
* ICAC Grant Program - The Attorney General will be required to establish a formula grant program for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, funded at $60 million for FY 2008, increasing to $100 million in FY 2015. This will ensure that local agencies have the additional resources necessary to create robust cyber units with highly trained investigators.
* Increased Federal Agents - The bill will authorize over $40 million per year over the next eight years for 250 new federal agents at the FBI, the Immigrations and Custom Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Postal Service. These new agents will be dedicated to child exploitation cases.
* Increased Forensic Capacity - $7 million per year to establish increased forensic capacity for child exploitation cases at the Regional Computer Forensic Labs (RCFL).