A new law in the Nevada state legislature would require sex traffickers attempting to lure juveniles (or law enforcement impersonating children) to serve a prison sentence, filling a legal loophole that allows them to target her escape.
Senate Bill 89 will force offenders to serve a prison sentence once caught by law enforcement, with penalties becoming more severe the younger the child is. The legislation specifically provides a punishment for offenders who speak to law enforcement officials posing as minor children, in a way the current law does not, according to FOX 5 Las Vegas.
Under the bill, a sex trafficker suspected of attempting to bait children over the Internet faces a Class A felony, an automatic life sentence and a minimum probation period of five to 15 years.
The minimum sentence the offender faces depends on the age of the wanted sex trafficking victim or the age of the child the law enforcement officer claims to be.
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“The younger the person is or believes the person is, the harsher the penalties,” said Republican Heidi Seevers Gansert.
She added: “It is well known that young people are lured into human trafficking at a very early age and we want to do everything we can to ensure that there are significant penalties.”
The new legislation would also double the window for applications for assistance from the Victims of Crime Fund from 24 months to 48 months.
“These funds can be used for housing, for education, for childcare and for all sorts of other things that help them get back on their feet. And in the end, that’s what we want. We want to make sure that they have more time because of the healing process,” Seevers Gansert said.
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Nevada has one of the highest rates of sex trafficking anywhere in the country, and various agencies across the state have expanded the resources available to victims during January, Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
According to FOX Las Vegas, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 4,408 calls since 2007 from someone in the state of Nevada needing assistance.
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A third of the victims are exploited via hotels, said the hotline of the point of sale.
The bill has bipartisan support.