Legislature cracks down on human trafficking
Several bills are heading to Governor McDonnell’s desk that aim to crack down on human trafficking.
The legislation was introduced by members on both sides of the aisle and passed overwhelmingly during the session.
Republican Delegate Tim Hugo of Fairfax had a bill that would make trafficking of individuals for sexual activity a class 2 felony, which means a minimum of 20 years, and up to life, in prison.
Hugo: We’ve had gangs that are basically taking these young women and trafficking them. You think it just happens overseas in Thailand and places like that, but it’s happening right here in Virginia, so I'm very pleased that it went through. This'll make a difference in some young girl's life.
Democratic Delegate Adam Ebbin of Alexandria patroned a bill that would establish a framework to help victims apply for state and federal benefits.
Ebbin: The justice department estimates that as many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year, but the public doesn't realize that there are as many as 200,000 young girls and young boys who are runaways who are brought into prostitution or coerced from their existing home life into trafficking situations.
Governor McDonnell is expected to sign the bills. During the session, he commended the lawmakers for their efforts and called trafficking a soulless and evil practice.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square