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Delaware Senate Democrats

Williams, Poore Human Trafficking Bills Sent To Governor

June 5, 2019

Legislation helps victims reclaim their lives, and reduces strain on the criminal justice system.

DOVER – Two bills aimed at supporting victims of human trafficking have been sent to Gov. John Carney for his signature.

Championed by Rep. Kim Williams and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore, House Bill 102 and Senate Bill 60 would help survivors of human trafficking reestablish their lives after trauma, strengthen public awareness and coordination, and clarify the crime of prostitution.

These measures are the result of recommendations from the Delaware Human Trafficking Interagency Coordinating Council, which is a coalition of agency leaders and stakeholders dedicated to supporting human trafficking victims.

Senate Bill 60, which was sent back to the Senate after being amended in the House, cleared its final hurdle Wednesday with the Senate passed the final version by a vote of 19-1. The bill clarifies that children cannot be convicted of prostitution under Delaware law. Prosecuting children and teens for prostitution is rare in Delaware, but SB 60 codifies that current standard and ensure all victims are protected in the future.

“Our focus needs to be on prosecuting the adults who broker and pay for this abuse, not punishing the children caught up in human trafficking,” said Sen. Poore, D-New Castle. “The victims of these horrific acts need counseling and intervention, not criminal records. Our hope is these bills help change the culture and conversation around human trafficking.”

Under HB 102, which passed the Senate in May, human trafficking victims forced to participate in criminal activities could be given a clean slate, opening opportunities to jobs, housing and education. The legislation allows a person who is arrested or convicted of any crime, except a violent felony, as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking to pursue a pardon, expungement or motion to vacate judgement. HB 102 also expands the Human Trafficking Interagency Coordinating Council with additional stakeholders and encourages more public awareness of this issue. 

“The scourge of human trafficking seeps into our communities, destroying lives every single day. We have to take action to help victims of these terrible traumas, and HB 102 and SB 60 lead the mission, helping survivors find the pathway to rehabilitation,” said Rep. Williams, D-Newport.

“Trafficking is a significant issue that has a longstanding impact on victims, so we should be doing what we can to ensure they have the wraparound services to be successful, and break down barriers that stand in their way. I’m so pleased that these bills have passed the General Assembly.” 

According to an analysis by Polaris Project, nearly 41,000 human trafficking cases were reported nationwide from 2007 to 2017, with 8,759 cases in 2017 alone. Of the total cases nationwide, there have been 91 reported in Delaware since 2007.