By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
April 18, 2013
RALEIGH — Human traffickers convicted in the Tar Heel state will find themselves on the Sex Offender Registry thanks to a new law that legislators are calling their first step in moving North Carolina out of the top 10 states for sex trafficking.
“What this bill does is, it basically says that if you are a sex trafficker in minors or you are holding anyone in sexual servitude, when you are convicted as a sex trafficker, you will also be subject to sex offender registration,” said Sen. Thom Goolsby in a YouTube video promoting the bill. He described the registry component as, “the full harassment package — that is the ankle bracelet monitoring, having to register as a sex offender at your Sheriff’s Department, whenever you move you have to update it, your neighbors are notified, everything we need to help take a bite out of this crime.”
In shepherding Senate Bill 122, which won unanimous approval from both the Senate and the House and was sent to the Governor on Thursday, Sen. Goolsby never failed to remind fellow lawmakers that North Carolina is ranked the eighth state in the nation when it comes to human trafficking.
“That is a list of shame that I am bound and determined to get our state off of,” he averred.
The bill, Sex Trafficking/Sex Offender Registration, draws attention to the fact that no matter how the trafficking begins, whether domestic servitude or some other arrangement, it nearly always winds up being sex trafficking.
Sen. Goolsby said that statistics show that within 48 hours of leaving home, approximately one in three runaways will become involved in prostitution. No wonder the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimates that at least 100,000 American children are the victims of commercial sex trafficking and prostitution every year.
“This bill has been called the first battle in the war against human trafficking in North Carolina, an effort that the Christian Action League has been heavily involved in,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, the League’s executive director. “We are glad to see so many lawmakers, prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, non-profits, faith groups and others coming together around this issue.”
He said the Christian Action League is monitoring related legislation including Rep. Susi Hamilton’s (D-New Hanover) bill, H 211, which would also increase penalties for trafficking, and S 683, the Safe Harbor bill introduced by Sen. Goolsby and others early this month. Written with the help of Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Roberson from New Hanover County, the comprehensive bill would not only create a “safe harbor” for victims of trafficking and minors sold into prostitution, it would also toughen penalties for traffickers, pimps and johns and help victims receive restitution.
Senate Bill 122 will take effect Dec. 1.