Legislature Passes Human Trafficking Bill with Amendment Protecting Alaskans
Amendment allows law enforcement to prosecute traffickers who prey on victims within Alaska
JUNEAU- Today, the Alaska State Legislature voted to strengthen penalties on human and sex trafficking in Alaska, including an amendment to House Bill 359, proposed by Senator Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage.
Current state law recognizes the crime of “trafficking” only when victims are transported across state lines. Senator Wielechowski’s amendment closed that loophole, allowing law enforcement to prosecute traffickers who prey on victims within state borders.
“Sex trafficking is one of the most despicable crimes in Alaska,” said Senator Wielechowski. “It should not make a difference if you are transporting someone from the Lower 48 or within the state to engage in these acts.”
Throughout the session, committees heard gut-wrenching testimony about predators luring Alaska Native girls and boys to Anchorage and then forcing them into a life of prostitution or slavery.
“These offenders entice young women and children into their sex trafficking rings by promising them phones, video games, money, drugs, and alcohol,” said Senator Wielechowski. “Subsequently, these victims are drugged and beaten in order to force them to continue to prostitute themselves for the monetary gain of the offenders.”
House Bill 359 also changes the legal definition of “promoting prostitution” to include “sex trafficking,” so young Alaskans who are being induced into prostitution are referred to as victims of trafficking rather than as prostitutes.
“This bill is a step forward in this fight. It will help us to curtail sex trafficking in Alaska,” said Senator Wielechowski. “But we still need more education, emergency housing, and medical and mental services. Most of all, we need people to believe these individuals are worth saving.”
House Bill 359 now heads to Governor Parnell for his signature.
For more information, please call Senator Wielechowski at 907-242-1558 or Kendra Kloster at 907-465-2435.