On November 6, 2012, Californians will have the opportunity vote on Proposition 35, otherwise known as the CASE Act. Proposition 35, a joint effort between California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation, would fight against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children.
Proposition 35 would:
- Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences up to 15-years-to-life and fines up to $1,500,000.
- Fines collected to be used for victim services and law enforcement.
- Requires person convicted of trafficking to register as sex offender.
- Requires sex offenders to provide information regarding Internet access and identities they use in online activities.
- Prohibits evidence that victim engaged in sexual conduct from being used against victim in court proceedings.
- Requires human trafficking training for police officers.
- Prohibits the use of evidence that a person was involved in prostitution if they were coerced or under 18.
- Bans attacking the sexual behavior of a victim in court to undermine their credibility.
Proponents champion this proposition for its efforts to protect children from sexual exploitation while keeping human traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes. “By passing 35, Californians will make a statement that we will not tolerate the sexual abuse of our children and that we stand with the victims of these horrible crimes.” – Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney and national victims’ rights advocate.
Opponents argue that although Proposition is well-intended, it contains flaws. IVN states that “some prosecutors worry that the initiative’s broad wording will undermine their ability to prosecute traffickers” while “depriving accused traffickers of a fair trial, making it vulnerable to constitutional challenges”. John Vanek, a retired police lieutenant from the San Jose Police Human Trafficking Task Force, says that the CASE Act could potentially discourage prosecutors from charging cases under the new law(s) due to restrictions, such as limiting the information they can use in court. Proposition 35 could also decrease the amount of money available to survivors through civil remedies because of the increase in criminal fines.