Criminal Justice

AGs Ask Feds For More Power Against Sex Trafficking

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July 25, 2013 — From TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Greg Zoeller and 48 other state attorneys general are asking Congress to help them fight prostitution and child sex trafficking by changing a federal law.

The attorneys general want Congress to change the Communications Decency Act to give criminal jurisdiction to state and local prosecutors.

“For Indiana and other states to be more effective in combatting prostitution and child sex trafficking, the Communication Decency Act should be updated,” Zoeller said in a statement. “An amendment to this federal law could give local prosecutors the tools to hold accountable those who use technology to promote sexual exploitation.”

Zoeller said the original purpose of the act was to keep children from seeing inappropriate material on the Internet, but courts have said certain parts of the act give immunity to online classified sites from state prosecution.

Zoeller also said he believes prostitution is a local crime unless interstate travel, federal property or the involvement of a minor is part of the crime. Therefore, the attorneys general want the act to extend criminal jurisdiction from just the federal government to local governments in order to put a stop to the crimes.

According to local prosecutors, prostitution solicitations are occurring mostly online on sites like Backpage.com, which has facilitated the prostitution of more than 250 children in at least 35 states.

Zoeller asked the Indiana General Assembly to amend a human trafficking law that helps with the recovery of human trafficking victims before the Super Bowl in 2012. This year, the legislature strengthened the law to apply to 16- and 17-year-olds as well.

Zoeller serves as co-chair of the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans task force, which has trained more than 5,800 people to identify human trafficking victims and respond to their needs. Zoeller also works with more than 60 state organizations that help human trafficking victims.

Zoeller’s office is working with Truckers Against Trafficking and the Indiana Motor Truck Association to teach Indiana truck drivers about sex trafficking. Zoeller’s office is also working with the Indiana Hotel and Lodging Association, The Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Connect2Help 2-1-1, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, IARCCA – An Association of Children and Family Services, first responders and state and federal agencies to identify human trafficking victims.

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