PHOENIX – Legislation enacted today will enhance the ability of Arizona prosecutors to hold offenders accountable for crimes related to human trafficking and child prostitution. House Bill 2454, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Eddie Farnsworth (R-12), represents recommendations for legislative action by the Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force and was supported by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The legislation also provides important privacy protections for crime victims by preventing the release of information that could be used to identify and locate them.
“This legislation provides us with additional tools to prosecute human traffickers, especially those who prey on vulnerable children for sexual exploitation or forced labor,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “I commend our Governor for her leadership in establishing the Human Trafficking Task Force, and the co-chairs, Cindy McCain from the McCain Institute and Gil Orrantia, Director of Arizona’s Department of Homeland Security, for addressing opportunities to improve the way we approach these crimes and protect citizens from the specific harm they cause,” he added.
HB 2454 expands the definition of racketeering to include child prostitution, sex trafficking and trafficking of persons for forced labor or services and allows longer prison sentences for trafficking defendants who recruit children in foster care or runaway shelters. The legislation also enhances penalties for defendants who engage in prostitution with a minor the defendant knows or should have known is 15, 16 or 17 years of age.
House Bill 2454 was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer at a ceremony earlier today. An amendment to the bill strengthens privacy protections for crime victims by barring law enforcement agencies from disclosing a victim’s date of birth during a criminal proceeding, which could be used to identify and locate them.
“This amendment provides an important protection to crime victims necessitated by a recent State Supreme Court ruling that failed to acknowledge a crime victim’s right to privacy,” Montgomery said. “I applaud our legislature for properly recognizing the constitutional right of crime victims to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse throughout the criminal justice process and the importance of restricting the release of their personal identifying and locating information,” he added.