Howard County AGAST is a volunteer grassroots citizen advocacy group against slavery and human trafficking. AGAST also works with MD HT Task Force Legislative Committee. We joined with other advocates from MD and the Md. HT Task Force last Tuesday, January 30th in Annapolis and heard about the support for Human Trafficking from both Delegate Dumais and Delegate Susan Lee . Delegate Lee will be introducing legislation on other essential Human Trafficking legislative improvements for Maryland but we do not yet have Bill nos. for Delegate Lee’s legislation. (She is coordinating with the legislative arm of the Md. Human Trafficking Task Force. We expect more details very soon.)
Bill HBO 713 (with different numbers) was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate in past years (thank you Howard County Senators) but we have not been able to persuade the HOUSE Judiciary Committee Chair, Chairman Joseph Vallario to allow the Bill to come to the House floor. We have 80 co-sponsors for this Bill in the House. There are only 5 missing from the House Judiciary Committee. (Please see the Flyer that is being passed around and contact these members.) IF House Bill 713 comes to the floor, we do have faith (this year) that the Bill could be/will be passed. ( Note: We The appropriate folks met with Chairman Vallario last year and documented his stated concerns. We believe they have been addressed in the current legislation.) We are asking the Chairman to please allow this current Bill to come up for discussion and then, when it passes, we will appeal to (you) our Senators to re-affirm your past support. Right now the authorities can obtain assets of convicted of convicted drug traffickers in MD but not human traffickers.
Need for Asset Forfeiture:
Sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking defined as the commercial sexual exploitation of an adult by another. A child age 18 or under is by definition is a victim of sex trafficking without the need to prove force, fraud or coercion. Children are sometimes forced and other times lured into the commercial sex trade. Often false promises & fraud are involved. The average age of child victims nationally is 13.( It is rapidly moving down to 11.) The forced behavior of these children causes them to be viewed as criminals. Thus they are traumatized and then they are often regularly sentenced to juvenile detention. Traffickers suffer no significant consequences. Assets gained by convicted pimps and traffickers should be forfeited and used to pay for restorative and rehabilitations services for their victims. There is no other government funding, either state or federal, for restorative services. Instead many young people are criminalized for the crimes committed against them and receive no services to help them. Profits taken from convicted offenders will be subject to forfeiture and will be used for an anti Human Trafficking fund. The funds will provide aid to victims and funding to law enforcement and non profit organizations that provide services to victims. Some can be used for education programs on human trafficking.
Trafficking is not just overseas. Traffickers exploiting vulnerable children and adults are doing it right here for the big profits. They’re selling our girls and (some) boys as human “products” with very little risk of being caught in Maryland. Our state has asset forfeiture for convicted traffickers of drugs, but not for traffickers of human beings. There have been newspaper articles and stories on high school age children seduced into sex trafficking in northern Virginia and Montgomery County. There was a recent incidence in Laurel Maryland. Unfortunately HT it is already here in Howard County. Many gangs and drug traffickers are moving into sex trafficking. If you link to Shared Hope International (www.shared hope.org) you will find background information as to why we support Asset Forfeiture for Human Trafficking. Please reference a one-page issue brief, the Abell Foundation’s report on Sex Trafficking in Baltimore (“Sex Trafficking in Maryland: Police, Social Agencies Say Human Trafficking Growing Faster Than Authorities Can Control: Five Recommendations to Address the Problem”), a Sun article “Online Brothels”, and more. Law Enforcement has told us that Maryland needs stronger laws to give law enforcement more tools. We also need more places for victims to go to get rehabilitated. Both the Polaris Project (www.polarisproject.org) and Shared Hope International (www.sharedhope.org) give Maryland a grade of “D” (6/10 and 64/100, respectively) due to its lack of laws to successfully combat human trafficking. If this issue touches your heart please become involved. First, please support this legislation. Howard County AGAST is sponsoring a program for adults, parents, guardians and grandparents on Sat March 2nd about the dangers of cyber traffic and the Internet to our middle and high school young teens and what you can do. The program will be held at the Kittamaquindi Community Church in Downtown Columbia across from Running Brook Rd. at 10:00 AM. It is Oliver’s Carriage house on Vantage Point Rd. Ask your school and/or PTA to have information sessions on this same subject. We work with a Maryland Coalition that is fighting Human Trafficking and The Samaritan Women. We can help arrange programs and speakers.
AGAIN: The forfeited funds will provide aid to victims and funding to law enforcement and non profit organizations that provide services to victims. Some can be used for education programs on human trafficking.
In a speech on September 25, 2012, President Obama said: “Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time…It ought to concern every person, because it’s a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime…The injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking…must be called by its true name—modern slavery.”
Bills we are supporting:
HB713: Asset Forfeiture for Human Trafficking
Sponsor: Delegate Dumais; 80 cosponsors
Judiciary Committee Hearing (House): Tuesday, February 19, 2012 @ 1:00 pm
HB 713 authorizes asset forfeiture of vehicles, books, records, money, weapons, or property used or intended to be used in violation of Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 11-303 (Human trafficking) , § 11-304 (Receiving earnings of prostitute), § 11-305 (Abduction of child under 16), §11-207(a) (Child pornography), and § 3-324 (Sexual solicitation of minor). The bill establishes an Anti-Human Trafficking Fund to provide aid to victims, funding to law enforcement, and funding to nonprofit or private organizations that work on the issue of human trafficking.
HB 943: Abduction Penalty
Sponsor: Delegate Lee
HB 933: Mistake of Age Defense Prohibited
Sponsor: Delegate Lee
SB 215: Human Trafficking of 18-20 year olds a felony
Sponsor: Senator Forehand
Barbara Wright for Ho Co AGAST