Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday signed into law one of the country’s toughest human-trafficking bills, establishing a 10-year mandatory prison sentence for offenders caught preying on children or using them as sex slaves.
In addition, the Columbus Dispatch
reported, Ohio’s Human Trafficking Task Force plans to appoint a state coordinator to head the anti-trafficking fight and to use federal money to help build a coalition against what amounts to modern-day slavery.
The task force also plans to use federal money to provide more services for at-risk youth and to train police, social service workers, foster parents, and school nurses in what to look for to identify possible instances of trafficking and slavery.
The new law, which takes effect immediately, categorizes human trafficking as a first-degree felony and carries a mandatory 10-year prison sentence. It also authorizes police to arrest people who pay for juvenile prostitutes, puts juvenile trafficking victims in treatment programs rather than in jail, and registers convicted traffickers as sex offenders.
The Dispatch cited task force data showing that young trafficking victims are often taken from malls, schools, and even courthouses.
According to the task force, nine out of 10 children who run away from home end up in the sex business and kids under 18 are the most trafficked in the United States.
The task force is also pushing for additional laws that would crack down on businesses, such as massage parlors, found to be involved in human trafficking. The group has also called for the establishment of statewide, toll-free hotline so that victims and the public can report instances of human trafficking.
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