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Reps. Hartzler, Bass Introduce Legislation to Combat Sex Trafficking

June 17, 2021
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), alongside Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), introduced the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, which would expand the authority of the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants Program (Byrne JAG) to enable law enforcement agencies to compete for federal funding, specifically in developing and implementing sex trafficking demand reduction programs.

“When a child is placed in the child welfare system, it is on us, the government, to keep them safe,” Bass said. “The average age of a child who is trafficked is 12 years old. Unfortunately, our increasingly virtual world serves as breeding ground for human trafficking crime. We need to make sure the tools to protect our families and children are available. This bill helps do that and I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this important piece of legislation.”

“During the pandemic, women and children have been increasingly susceptible to the victimization of the ever-growing human trafficking industry,” Hartzler said. “Now more than ever, children are connected to the online world, families are out of work, and overall mental health is on the decline — creating a perfect breeding ground for human trafficking crime. The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act provides law enforcement with the necessary tools to protect our communities from the dangers exacerbated by COVID-19.”

Specifically, the bill would add “programs to combat human trafficking (including programs to reduce the demand for trafficked persons)” as one of the Byrne JAG funding avenues. Currently, funding has to fall within one of eight purpose areas:
  1. Law Enforcement 
  2. Prosecution and Courts 
  3. Crime Prevention and Education 
  4. Corrections and Community Corrections 
  5. Drug Treatment and Enforcement 
  6. Planning, Evaluation, and Technology Improvement 
  7. Crime Victim and Witness Programs (Other Than Compensation)
  8. Mental health programs and related law enforcement and corrections programs, including behavioral programs and crisis intervention teams
Adding this additional provision for Byrne JAG grant funding will provide state and local agencies more flexibility in prioritizing precious resources to combat domestic sex trafficking.
Read the bill here