State and federal laws already define two types of human trafficking. Sex trafficking, probably the one most people think of first, includes forced prostitution. The other, labor trafficking, includes forcing an undocumented immigrant to work for free under threat of deportation.
Prop 35 would do several things. First, it would expand the definition of human trafficking to include the production or distribution of child pornography. It would also increase the penalties for all types of human trafficking. The maximum prison sentence for labor trafficking would increase from the current 5 or 8 years (depending on whether a minor is involved) to 12 years. For sex trafficking, it would increase from 5 or 8 years to a maximum of 20 years for adults or life in prison if a minor is involved. If the victim suffered bodily injury, an additional 10 years could be added to the sentence (currently it's only five). For each prior conviction, a defendant could also have an additional 5 years tacked on to the sentence. And anyone convicted of human trafficking would now be required to register as a sex offender.
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Under Prop 35, courts could fine anyone convicted of a human trafficking offense up to $1.5 million. That money would have to be spent on victims' support services (70 percent) and on law enforcement activities related to human trafficking (30 percent). It would also require new training for all police, sheriff's department, and highway patrol officers.
Prop 35 would further protect victims. First, a person could not be prosecuted for criminal sexual conduct, such as prostitution, if he or she committed the crime while a victim of human trafficking. Nor could a person's sexual conduct be used to discredit them in court proceedings.
Finally, Prop 35 would require that all registered sex offenders provide information about their Internet service provider and their online identities.
WHAT YOUR VOTE MEANS
Voting YES means that you would like to increase the penalties for human trafficking and implement the other changes proposed under Prop 35.
Voting NO means that you want to keep California's existing laws regarding human trafficking, no change.
WHO/WHAT IT WOULD AFFECT
Criminal Defendants: Defendants in human trafficking cases would not be allowed to use a victim's sexual conduct to discredit their characters. If convicted, they would also face having to register for life as a sex offender, and they would face considerably stiffer sentences.
Registered Sex Offenders: Registered sex offenders would have to report additional information about their Internet service providers and online identities. Some convicted criminals who previously would not have been considered sex offenders would have to register for life.
State and Federal Courts: Many human trafficking cases are tried in federal courts, under federal law. According to the legislative analyst, it's actually unclear how much that will change under the new measure.
State and Local Government: Governments could see an increase of a couple million dollars a year for criminal justice costs, in total.
Law Enforcement: Officers would be required to undergo specialized training related to human trafficking. The collective cost of training could be up to a few million dollars up front followed by lower costs each year thereafter.
Victims: Victims would gain some additional protections under the measure, including freedom from prosecution for criminal sexual conduct if it were perpetrated as a result of human trafficking. Some additional revenue would be available for victim services because of the new fines courts could impose. A few million dollars could be raised each year from those fines, though it would obviously depend on how many people were convicted. As of March 2012, only 18 prisoners in the state were there for human trafficking, according to the legislative analyst.
WHO'S BEHIND IT
Prop 35 was spearheaded by California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation, an organization created by former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly. Major financial supporters of the measure include Chris Kelly and the Peace Officers Research Association of California
WHO'S AGAINST IT
Several principals at Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education, and Research Project, Inc. put together arguments against Prop 35. However, as of Aug. 28, the Secretary of State's Office reports no committees formed to collect contributions for an opposition campaign.
ARGUMENTS BEING MADE FOR
Prop 35 will protect children from sexual exploitation.
It will hold human traffickers accountable for their crimes.
It will help stop the exploitation of children online by requiring sex offenders to provide information about their Internet presence.
ARGUMENTS BEING MADE AGAINST
This measure actually threatens innocent people by broadening the definition of pimping: anyone receiving financial support from consensual prostitution among adults, including a sex worker's children or spouse, could be prosecuted as a human trafficker. If convicted, they would have to register as a sex offender for life.
The measure could be challenged as unconstitutional for its vague definition of human trafficking that would include the "intent to distribute obscene matter," possibly for "cruel and unusual" punishments including excessive prison terms and fines, and for inhibiting a defendant's right to introduce evidence in defense trials.
It will cost the state even more through increased workloads in probation departments and through new training for police.
Top Photo: A prostitute looks from a window of the "Super Frontera" bar, late on April 21, 2012, during an operation against human trafficking in Guatemala City. | Credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images