By Tim Grimes
The Statehouse File
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill into law Monday that would make it easier to prosecute and punish people who force others into the sex trade.
Gov. Mitch Daniels explains the benefits of the anti-human trafficking bill at a press conference Monday. Daniels was eager to get the bill passed before the Super Bowl. Photo by Tim Grimes, The Statehouse File.
The move comes less than one week before the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, an event expected to attract those in the human trafficking business to the city.
“I can’t think of a better way to begin Super Bowl week than by signing this act and putting up the ‘don’t try that here’ sign,” said Daniels.
The anti-human trafficking bill is the first bill Daniels has signed into law this year.
Daniels gave two of the pens that he used to sign the bill to Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington, and Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, an effort that could foster bipartisanship in a divided General Assembly.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller was the primary advocate of the tougher human trafficking law, which has also become a focus of attorneys general throughout the country.
“Today we close loopholes in Indiana law so our police and prosecutors have the legal tools they need to crack down on those who traffic young victims in a growing area of criminal enterprise that is considered a modern form of human slavery,” Zoeller said in a statement.
The new law will:
- Close a loophole in existing law so non-relatives who traffic a child can be prosecuted, rather than a parent or guardian only.
- More effectively define the crime of “promotion of human trafficking of a minor” so that prosecutors can bring charges against traffickers even if no force was used and for situations involving prostitution and involuntary servitude by minors.
- Broaden the penalty for certain types of trafficking so the sentences are increased.
The bill will make human trafficking a Class B felony, punishable up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The bill also makes it a Class A felony, punishable up to 50 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, to traffic someone younger than 16.
Tim Grimes is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.