For Immediate Release - January 20, 2011

Attorney General Coakley, Coalition of Legislators, Law Enforcement, and Advocates File Comprehensive Human Trafficking Legislation

Bill Aimed At Eliminating Exploitation Of Victims For Sexual Servitude Or Labor; Massachusetts Is Currently One Of Only 5 States Without Human Trafficking Laws

BOSTON - Seeking to eradicate the exploitation of victims for sexual servitude and labor, Attorney General Martha Coakley and a coalition of legislators, law enforcement, and advocates, including lead sponsors Senator Mark Montigny and House Judiciary Chairman Eugene O'Flaherty, today filed comprehensive human trafficking legislation.

Human trafficking is considered the second largest and single fastest growing illegal industry in the world. Experts estimate that 27 million people are trafficked internationally and domestically, bringing in $32 billion annually.

Listen to audio from the press conference:

The bill, An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People, would for the first time, establish human trafficking for sexual servitude or labor as a crime in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is currently one of only five states in the country without human trafficking laws. The bill gives law enforcement the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute the crimes and attempts to address all three aspects of human trafficking - supply, demand, and victim services.

"This bill is one step toward combating the egregious crime of human trafficking, which is a fundamental issue of public safety and human rights in our Commonwealth," Attorney General Coakley said. "Let there be no doubt - people of every background are victims of human trafficking across the world, in this country, and right in our own backyard. This bill sends a clear message that human trafficking is unacceptable in Massachusetts and will give law enforcement the tools to address it. I want to thank Senator Montigny, Chairman O'Flaherty, and the other legislators who support this proposal, my partners in law enforcement, the labor community, and those who advocate on behalf of victims, for their efforts and support on this important issue."

"Human trafficking is the most despicable crime against humanity and all that is decent in our society. Victims tell us that it is a punishment worse than death, as their spirits are destroyed, yet they are forced to face their captors after abuse that often includes unspeakable violence," said longtime leader of anti-human trafficking efforts, Senator Mark Montigny. "I cannot overstate the importance of passing legislation to ensure that law enforcement officials in the commonwealth have all the tools necessary to protect potential victims and punish those who are profiting from these horrendous crimes. It is time for Massachusetts to become the leader on this issue by enacting the strongest laws in the nation."

"Human Trafficking is an egregious crime and victims need to know that their government is working to punish and deter these horrific offenses. I am proud to work with Attorney General Coakley, and my colleagues in the Legislature, in proposing new statutes that increase our existing penalties and puts the focus on making Massachusetts the leading state in this area of victim rights legislation," said House Judiciary Chairman Eugene O'Flaherty.

The bill does three main things: creates two new crimes; creates an inter-agency task force; and amends penalties regarding existing statutes to address the demand side of human trafficking.

Specifically, An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People does the following:

  • Creates the crime of trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, which has a penalty of no more than 20 years in state prison;
  • Creates the crime of trafficking of persons for forced labor, which has a penalty of no more than 15 years in state prison;
  • Imposes higher penalties for those who exploit child victims under 18 years of age versus adult victims for both crimes (life or any term of years)
  • Imposes a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison for any second or subsequent offense of either crime;
  • Allows forfeiture of funds and enables funds to be paid to victims in any restitution order from the court;
  • Creates an inter-agency task force to study human trafficking that is led by the Attorney General; and
  • Increases penalties for current "John" crimes to address the demand side of human trafficking.

In addition to this legislation, AG Coakley has announced the creation of a Human Trafficking Strike Force in her office. The Strike Force consists of staff from the AG's Business and Labor, Criminal, Public Protection and Advocacy, and Executive Bureaus. This strike force is tasked with coordinating the efforts of the office and working to combat human trafficking by increasing prosecutions, educating the general public, training and coordinating with other law enforcement, and seeking out resources to assist and support victims.

In October 2010, the Attorney General held a hearing to examine the public safety concerns surrounding the role of websites in facilitating human trafficking and the illegal sex trade. The Attorney General heard evidence and took testimony on how better to protect individuals from the dangers of websites that host sexually explicit advertisements. To build upon those efforts and continue to combat commercial exploitation of people for sexual servitude and labor, the Attorney General will file this comprehensive legislation.

This legislation will be filed today, and is supported by:

Senator Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford)

Judiciary Committee House Chairman Eugene L. O'Flaherty (D-Chelsea)

Senator Seven A. Baddour (D-Methuen)

Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre)

Senator Katherine Clark (D-Melrose)

Senator Barry R. Finegold (D-Andover)

Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster)

Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton)

Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Milbury)

Senator Robert Hedlund (R- Hingham)

Representative Ruth B. Balser (D-Newton)

Representative William N. Brownsberger (D-Belmont)

Representative Thomas P. Conroy (D-Wayland)

Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington)

Representative Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer)

Representative Louis L. Kafka (D-Stoughton)

Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton)

Representative Lori A. Ehrlich (D-Marblehead)

Representative David Paul Linsky (D-Natick)

Representative Denise Provost (D-Somerville)

Representative Byron Rushing (D-Boston)

Representative Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland)

Representative Robert M. Koczera (D-New Bedford)

Representative Daniel B. Winslow (R-Norfolk)

Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter, President of the

Massachusetts District Attorneys Association

Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley

Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett

Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone

Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz

Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan

Hampden District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni

Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey

Steven A. Mazzie, President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis

Northborough Police Chief Mark K. Leahy

Wellesley Police Chief Terrence Cunnigham

New Bedford Police Chief Ronald E. Teachman

State Police Association of Massachusetts

Community VOICES

My Life My Choice Project

Germaine Lawrence

Massachusetts AFL-CIO

New England Regional Council of Carpenters

Massachusetts Jobs With Justice

Painters & Allied Trades District Council #35

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STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT FOR AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE COMMERCIAL EXPLOITATION OF PEOPLE

Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford)
"Human trafficking is the most despicable crime against humanity and all that is decent in our society. Victims tell us that it is a punishment worse than death, as their spirits are destroyed, yet they are forced to face their captors after abuse that often includes unspeakable violence," said longtime leader of anti-human trafficking efforts, Senator Mark Montigny. "I cannot overstate the importance of passing legislation to ensure that law enforcement officials in the commonwealth have all the tools necessary to protect potential victims and punish those who are profiting from these horrendous crimes. It is time for Massachusetts to become the leader on this issue by enacting the strongest laws in the nation."

House Judiciary Chair Eugene O'Flaherty (D-Chelsea)
"Human Trafficking is an egregious crime and victims need to know that their government is working to punish and deter these horrific offenses. I am proud to work with Attorney General Coakley, and my colleagues in the Legislature, in proposing new statutes that increase our existing penalties and puts the focus on making Massachusetts the leading state in this area of victim rights legislation."

Steven A. Baddour (D-Methuen)
"Human trafficking is a widespread and growing crime throughout the United States", said Senator Steven A. Baddour (D-Methuen), co-sponsor of the bill and Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on The Judiciary. "This bill protects victims of human trafficking - many of whom can't see a way out of their situation, or speak up for themselves due to fear and violence - by providing prosecutors and law enforcement fundamental tools to effectively address the crime."

Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter
"Human trafficking and child exploitation are among the most horrendous crimes that exist. We need to do much more to prevent and aggressively prosecute this type of criminal activity. With this legislation, we can take a significant step toward that goal by addressing gaps in the current law and giving law enforcement the tools they need to combat these reprehensible crimes."

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis
"Massachusetts is one of 5 states that does not currently have a human trafficking law. However, An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People will address all three aspects of human trafficking: supply, demand and victim services. I would like to thank Attorney General Martha Coakley, Judiciary Committee House Chairman Eugene L. O'Flaherty, and Senator Mark C. Montigny for their hard work in preparing this Bill. Enactment of this Bill will help the Boston Police Department in our tireless efforts to eradicate human trafficking."

Massachusetts Major City Chiefs, President, Chief Steven A. Mazzie
"The Mass Major City Chiefs are proud to support this important piece of legislation that addresses the commercial exploitation of people by recognizing that it is a crime, increasing penalties that address the demand side of human trafficking and takes and in-depth look at why this problem exists."

Wellesley Police Chief Terrence M. Cunningham
"Nothing shocks society's conscience more than the exploitation and degradation of human beings for criminal profit. Massachusetts needs a comprehensive human trafficking strategy, and the Attorney General's legislative proposal fills that void. People who exploit and traffic in human beings are currently prosecuted under a patchwork of old and disconnected statutes. Revelations about the extent of this problem call for a new and more effective approach, one that aggressively punishes the specific behavior of these heinous offenders. My personal hope is that the legislature will pass the Attorney General's human trafficking bill."

Robert J. Haynes, President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO
"We are as grateful as we are impressed that our attorney general continues her mission to protect all workers and applaud her pursuit of an end to exploitation. This initiative emphatically reinforces that mistreatment, abuse and exploitation of any worker in any field is among the worst kinds of crime. Not only is and should it be illegal but it is worse than that: it is inhumane and immoral. That's why workers are lucky to have such an advocate as Attorney General Coakley and why we'll fight alongside her in this noble pursuit."

Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, New England Regional Council of Carpenters
"We are pleased to support the Attorney General's bill to eradicate human trafficking in Massachusetts. As an organization dedicated to the dignity of labor and elevating standards for working people, it only makes sense that the New England Carpenters would support any and all efforts to address the degradation of forced labor and/or sexual slavery."

Massachusetts Jobs With Justice, Executive Director, Russ Davis
"We're glad that the Attorney General is showing leadership on this issue that plagues communities across the Commonwealth. The general public doesn't realize that thousands of trafficking victims are working everyday for unscrupulous employers under terrible conditions right here in our state. This measure will help all workers in Massachusetts by maintaining fair labor standards and encouraging victims to come forward and expose these abuses."

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