On May 29, the President signed into law the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (Public Law No: 114-22)
The legislation would do several things, mainly through Department of Justice (DOJ) programs and actions. Among the provisions:
- imposes a federal fine of $5,000 on people convicted of slavery or trafficking, sexual abuse; sexual exploitation and other abuse of children;
- establishes the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund with dollars generated by criminal fines to be used to award grants to states/local jurisdictions to combat trafficking, provide protection and assistance for victims and develop and implement child abuse investigation and prosecution programs;
- Amends the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act by replacing a pilot program for residential treatment facilities for juveniles subjected to trafficking with a program of three-year renewable block grants administered by DOJ to develop, improve, or expand domestic child human trafficking deterrence programs that help law enforcement and other entities in rescuing and restoring the lives of trafficking victims, while investigating and prosecuting offenses involving child human trafficking;
- Grant funds may be used for specialized training programs for law enforcement, first responders, health care, child welfare officials, juvenile justice personnel, prosecutors, and judicial personnel to identify victims of child human trafficking and speed up the rescue of child victims of human trafficking; it will also aid anti-trafficking law enforcement units and task forces to investigate child human trafficking offenses and to rescue victims; and to problem solve through court programs for trafficking victims;
- It expands the definition of “child abuse” under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography and authorizes grants to develop and implement specialized programs to identify and provide direct services to victims of child pornography;
- Establishes the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking to provide advice and recommendations to the Senior Policy Operating Group established under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking;
- Amends the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to include criteria for awarding grants for services to runaway and homeless youth based on whether such youth have been subject to severe forms of trafficking in persons or sex trafficking;
- Requires the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to conduct a review of research and academic literature on trafficking in persons in the US and make the review publicly available;
- Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act to give preferential consideration in awarding community-oriented policing (COPS) grants to an application from states that have laws that: (1) treats a minor who has engaged in, or has attempted to engage in, a commercial sex act as a victim; (2) discourages or prohibits the charging or prosecution of that victim for a prostitution or sex trafficking offense; and (3) encourages the diversion of that victim to appropriate service providers, including child welfare services, victim treatment programs, child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers, or other social services.
- DOJ is to implement a National Strategy for Combating Human Trafficking, which is to include integrated federal, state, local, and tribal efforts to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases; case coordination with DOJ on human trafficking investigations and annual budget priorities and federal efforts dedicated to preventing and combating human trafficking.
- Requires the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to award a grant or contract to an accredited school of medicine or nursing with experience in the study or treatment of victims of a severe form of trafficking to train health care professionals to recognize and respond to trafficking victims.
- HHS is required to disseminate and post on its website evidence-based best practices for recognizing potential victims of a severe form of human trafficking.
- It amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to require a state plan for its child protective services to include a certified assurance that the state has in effect and is enforcing a law requiring:
- identification and assessment of all reports involving children known or suspected to be victims of sex trafficking; and training child protective services workers in identifying, assessing, and providing comprehensive services for children who are sex trafficking victims.
- Each state receiving CAPTA funding must work with HHS to make an annual data report that includes the number of children determined to be victims of sex trafficking.
- A child is considered to be a victim of “child abuse and neglect” and of “sexual abuse” if the child is identified by a state or local agency employee as being a victim of sex trafficking or a victim of severe forms of trafficking in persons.
- A state is given the option to define “child” under CAPTA as a person under the age of 24.