By Sarah Hastings Bowman
Christian Action League
SB 910 – Sale of a Child/Felony Offense, sponsored by Senator Bob Atwater (D-Chatham) passed in the Senate Rules Committee on Thursday. The bill passed with a unanimous vote – a significant step forward in the battle against human trafficking in North Carolina.
Currently, North Carolina ranks among the top 10 states for human trafficking. Recent reports published by Shared Hope International and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) recommend the state increase its penalties for all aspects of human trafficking and sexual servitude. According to the reports, North Carolina is failing in its lack of protections for minors. The reports also give the state a failing grade in its training of law enforcement – a fact also noted by the Polaris Project for a World Without Slavery.
Over the past six months, the Christian Action League has researched the status of North Carolina’s problems with human trafficking and sexual servitude and discovered there are several state-wide organizations seeking to raise awareness and provide services to victims. Conference meetings with these organizations affirmed the findings of the reports named above. They also revealed the problem of human trafficking is more significant throughout the state than most of its citizens understand. Victims in North Carolina range from minors to adults, adolescents to South American farm workers, and adult males to four year old females.
SB 910 addresses several aspects of human trafficking and sexual servitude, specifically in regard to offenses against minors.
The bill accomplishes three key goals repeatedly identified as desperate needs by victims’ services organizations. First, it makes it a felony to sell, surrender, or purchase a child – something that is presently only a misdemeanor in state law. Moreover, it makes it a Class D felony with a minimum $10,000 fine for the first violation and a $50,000 fine for each subsequent offense.
Second, the proposal adds selling or the attempting to sell a child to North Carolina’s Child Abuse statute.
Lastly, SB 910 appropriates the funds acquired by the fines to the following; the Department of Public Safety to increase prison bed capacity, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys to fund and educate investigators and District Attorneys on this type of crime, as well as to provide research on what other measures are needed to stop human trafficking crimes in the state.
The Christian Action League will continue to work with legislators upon the recommendations of the state’s victims’ services organizations. And the League earnestly requests its supporters to be in prayer for everyone affected by this tragic form of criminal activity.
Take Christian Action: For more information about what human trafficking and sexual servitude are and how to identify victims, contact the office of the Christian Action League. The League has a Power Point presentation and would be happy to host a workshop for church and community groups.