Cunningham bill to protect human trafficking victims is headed to governor

A bill to broaden protections for adult victims of labor trafficking and pimping passed the state Legislature on Friday and now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval.

The bill is one of four introduced by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham of Templeton that seek to combat the trafficking of people for the purposes of sex crimes and forced labor.

Cunningham, who represents San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties, has called the Central Coast “the front lines in the fight against trafficking” due to Highway 101.

Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill.

Current state law allows a judge to issue a 10-year protective order for a victim of trafficking after a conviction only if the victim is a minor. Cunningham’s bill, which passed through the state Senate with a unanimous vote Friday, would authorize protection orders for adult victims of labor trafficking and pimping for up to ten years.

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime that must be stopped,” Cunningham said. “Since taking office, I have led the charge to protect innocent victims and increase penalties for traffickers. Victims deserve to feel safe and be protected from their former abusers.”

The bill was supported by Crime Victims United, the California District Attorneys Association, the California Police Chiefs Association and the California State Sheriffs’ Association.

Among the bills in Cunningham’s anti-human trafficking package, two died in committee. One, according to Cunningham, would have simplified the legal definition pandering, and another would have required 20-year registration in California’s sex offender registry for anyone convicted of the actual commission or soliciting of a sexual act with a minor if the person knew the victim was both underage and being trafficked.

A third bill, which provides more leeway to prosecutors in presenting jurors with past statements made by victims of human trafficking, was signed by the governor in July.

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