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General Assembly Passes Bill to Help Prevent Human Trafficking

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Senator Cynthia Coyne

The General Assembly passed legislation to help prevent human trafficking and apprehend its perpetrators in Rhode Island and across the country following a house vote on Tuesday. 

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Cynthia Coyne and Representative Shelby Maldonado, will now go to the Governor. 

“Rhode Island has made great strides in recent years in addressing human trafficking, but there’s still much more to be done. Making our laws mirror a national model will better enable Rhode Island to work with other states so we can be more effective in stopping this abominable crime and rescuing its victims. Critically, this bill improves protections and services for victims, who should not be treated as criminals and deserve assistance, and it steps up our efforts to prevent trafficking by increasing awareness so the public will recognize and report suspected cases. This bill will put Rhode Island in a much better position to prevent trafficking, catch and prosecute perpetrators, and free victims and connect them to services that they need,” said Senator Coyne. 

The Legislation 

The Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking would bring Rhode Island’s human trafficking laws in line with national standards as a means to help authorities around the country crack down on a nefarious underground industry that, by definition, generally involves crossing state lines. 

It enacts a three strong penalties, protecting and assisting victims and improved public awareness and planning.

The bill also promotes partnerships in the fight against human trafficking and establishes a council on human trafficking to coordinate prevention efforts and establish programs to assist victims. It would also make victims eligible for compensation under the criminal injuries compensation act.

Other States With This Legislation 

The legislation, which was drafted by the Uniform Law Commission and has been adopted by eight other states so far, makes trafficking of a minor a felony punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $40,000. 

Trafficking of an adult would be punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000.

“Rhode Island remains committed to fighting the deplorable practice of human trafficking in all its forms. This legislation will bring the state into alignment with a national model, allowing Rhode Island to work with other states to bring an end to this heinous crime. Even more importantly, it will increase understanding of this problem by promoting awareness,” said Rep. Maldonado. 

Those patronizing a minor for sexual servitude would also be guilty of a felony and subject to up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000. Those who patronize an adult victim of sexual servitude would face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Cosponsoring the Legislation

The legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Elaine J. Morgan (R-Dist. 34, Hopkinton, Richmond, Charlestown, Exeter, West Greenwich), Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), Sen. Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5, Providence), Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston), Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren).


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