Oct 26 2012

Prop 35, Although Well Meaning, Is Opposed by Many in the Anti-Human Trafficking Community

One of the more emotionally charged propositions on the ballot this November is Prop 35 which deals with human trafficking. Proposition 35 formally called ‘The Californians Against Sexual Exploitation’ or CASE Act appears on the surface to be a noble plan to crack down on trafficking, but critics have voiced some serious concerns with the measure.

Multimillionaire Chris Kelly, who lost a race for California State Attorney General in 2010 and is also Facebook’s former chief privacy officer is backing the proposition with over a million dollars of his own money.

The U.S. State Department estimates that over 17,000 people are brought into the country to be exploited in some way, whether in people’s homes as domestic help, in factories, as agricultural laborers or in the sex industry. California, which is a popular destination for trafficking victims and traffickers, passed a law in 2005 called the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act to make trafficking illegal as well as help promote the rights of victims.

Proposition 35, rather than building upon the current law to aid victims of trafficking, instead seeks to broaden the definition of trafficking by labeling more people as traffickers, especially those working in the sex industry. Opponents feel that the Proposition unfairly targets sex workers. Anyone financially supported by sex workers, including children or spouses of prostitutes could be labeled as traffickers. Sentences for sex trafficking would be much harsher than any other types of trafficking.

GUEST: John Vanek, Anti-Human Trafficking Consultant, Lieutenant (Ret.) who managed the San Jose Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force from 2006-2011 as part of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, member of the United States Department of Justice, OVC / BJA Anti-Trafficking Task Force Planning Committee, and sits on the National Advisory Boards of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking/Colorado Project. He is a contributor to a No On Prop 35 blog.

Read John Vanek’s writings on Proposition 35 at noonprop35.wordpress.com.

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Prop 35, Although Well Meaning, Is Opposed by Many in the Anti-Human Trafficking Community”

  1. butternuton 26 Oct 2012 at 11:45 am

    i love u niall horan

  2. Rafi Bon 26 Oct 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Everything I’ve read and heard about, “No On 35” (Including this program.) has been Very Confusing and Not Very Convincing.

  3. hfranon 28 Oct 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Prop 35 DOES build on the current state law by strengthening it where it has failed to address the rapidly growing problem of human trafficking in California. Prop 35 uses federal law as a guideline and draws on the first-hand experience of prosecutors and those who work to help victims. Sex trafficking, particularly of children, is flourishing in California because the profits are huge and the laws are weak, so traffickers operate with little risk. Gangs are getting involved because it is less risky and more profitable for them to sell children than to sell drugs. Law enforcement organizations, prosecutors, and child advocacy groups throughout the state have endorsed Prop 35. So have the California Democratic and Republican parties and numerous elected officials, private citizens and members of the business community. This is because Prop 35 will increase the penalties up to life in prison and a maximum $1.5 million fine for trafficking of children. (The current maximum penalty is $100,000 for selling a child for sex) Prop 35 will also close the many legal loopholes that have spared traffickers from being convicted. These are really dangerous people who belong off the streets, off the Internet, and away from children. The costs that result from Prop 35 will be negligible, especially when viewed long term. The fines will generate new funds to pay for the vital services necessary to help survivors recover, build new lives, and become contributing members of the community. And law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and social services will see savings through vast reductions in future arrests and broken lives. For a good understanding of Prop 35 go to: http://www.caseact.org/news/vote-yes-on-prop-35-to-stop-human-trafficking-in-california/.

  4. noonprop35on 29 Oct 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Shame on the California State Democratic Party, the California State Republican Party, the California Federation of Labor, the California National Organization for Women, the California Federation of Teachers, Planned Parenthood, the California Nurses Association and the NAACP for rubber stamping Prop 35 without bothering to ask to hear the opposition.

    These group have neglected their responsibility to act democratically on behalf of the victims of trafficking and their own members when they didn’t bother to vet properly this reckless ballot measure.

    Its not lost on the voters that Prop 35’s exact same lock’em up and throw away the key policies are being rolled back in both Prop 34 and 36. Not only have these failed policies robbed the public trust of affordable public education but they are contrary to the democracy these member organizations claim to value.

    Its of no small consequence that Prop 32 is before the voters poised take away these group’s right to politically associate as they have voted against their own self interest and violated the public trust in the process over and over again.

    These groups have clearly made a mistake by not soliciting the No On Prop 35 when it endorsed this bait and switch ballot measure. We call on them to take responsibility and admit they didn’t act democratically when they endorsed Prop 35.

    Vote No ON Prop 35

  5. heatheron 30 Oct 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Could someone please clarify how the broadened definition of pimping will affect the children and spouses of sex workers? Specifically, I would like to know where in the bill this is stated. Thanks.

  6. Sarahon 30 Oct 2012 at 9:39 pm


  7. Paulon 01 Nov 2012 at 9:53 am

    Another problematic aspect of this initiative is a new requirement on registered sex offenders to register *every* name email address, or ID they use online. This seemingly doesn’t even have anything to do with the supposed purpose of the law, but it’s in there.

    Of course not very many people want to take the side of sex offenders, but this is a free speech issue. What it boils down to, is it would deprive people of their right anonymous speech forever, based on one past crime.

  8. John Vanekon 03 Nov 2012 at 3:51 pm

    At the request of Uprising Radio, I’ll try and address some of the questions raised.

    Heather asks where, in the initiative, it states the potential impact on associates of sex workers. The initiative does not state this exactly; this is an argument expressed by some, based upon the interpretation of the initiative’s language. This issue is debatable, just as are many of the arguments proponents and opponents of Prop 35 (including me) make. (I am not disputing this issue – impacts on associates of sex workers – just stating that attorney’s on both sides have their own interpretations.)

    These disputes make deciding on this and every other proposition difficult.

    Paul raises another issue; sex registrants providing ISP and user-name info to police. As a law enforcement professional, I don’t have an issue with this, per se. However, I do believe proponents make this out to be a major step forward in fighting human trafficking, while I do not believe it will.

    The sex registry was created to keep track of sexual predators, and those convicted of sex crimes. Prop 35 conflates sex crimes with human trafficking, which I believe confuses these two different types of crime. Human trafficking (and sex trafficking) is motivated by financial drivers. It is about the money. In the case of commercial sex exploitation, selling the sex makes the money.

    Section 6 (c) states; “Any person who causes, induces, or persuades, or attempts to cause, induce, or persuade, a person who is a minor…”; it states, “attempts”, so a person could be convicted of trafficking without a completed act, for which they could be sentenced for 15 years to life, and / or be required to register as a sex offender without ever having committed a sexual assault. We can argue if this is a good thing or not, but we should at least realize what the language of the CASE act does.

    I spent 25 years with the San Jose Police Department and put a lot of individuals in prison – some for the rest of their lives. I am proud of my work, but even sadder that for every person I put in jail, someone was victimized. That said, the criminal justice system requires it be JUST for everyone. This does not always make me happy in this unjust world of ours, but it is the right way to do business.

    I believe Prop 35 has wrapped some issues in the cloth of “human trafficking”, when they would be better addressed (and more easily understood) when not conflated with modern day slavery.

    I realize my comments above may not clarify these questions; it is unfortunate such a complex and confusing piece of legislation is presented to the voters, most of whom don’t take the time to investigate these issues. No matter what your belief on Prop 35, I appreciate all of you who have posted questions or comments here.
    John Vanek

  9. Serenaon 04 Nov 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I think hfran put things very well. Prop 35 only applies to sexually exploited children, adults forcibly sold for sex, and forced labor, not consenting adult sex workers. Unless they are selling children or selling adults against their will, the law does not pertain to adult sex workers who willingly choose their profession.

    Currently, someone can take an adult woman, regularly auction her off to be raped, and only receive 5 years in jail for it. If it were a 10 year old child, the maximum penalty is 8 years. This is why people are selling children instead of drugs: they don’t have to spend as much time in jail.

    Some argue that the war on drugs is flawed and creates a largely minority population that is thrown into jail for nonviolent crimes, breaking up communities and families. However, we must differentiate between those who choose to take drugs into their own bodies or facilitate others doing so, and the criminal acts of forced labor, sex slavery, and selling children for sex. Regardless of your views on whether and to what degree drugs should be illegal, human trafficking is a crime against other people, like assault, theft, and murder, and must be fought.

    Many people don’t seem to realize how big a problem human trafficking is in this country; they assume it’s only in other places like Thailand and Cambodia. But about 300,000 children are at risk right here in the US. And they’re not foreign immigrants. Most of them are American, often runaways, foster children, or both. The average age American girls enter the sex industry is between 12 and 14. Foster children are wards of the state: literally our children. We need to make sure they are safe, preventing and prosecuting the crimes committed against them.

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