Last year, following over five years of persistence and thanks to steadfast dedication and support from my Senate colleagues and victims advocacy groups I was able to secure bipartisan enactment of my legislation that makes New York the national leader in the fight against human and sex trafficking. I am pleased to announce that this new law is now in effect.
The new law will dramatically strengthen criminal penalties for individuals who engage in the human and sex trafficking while providing victims with the vital resources and support to assist them in recovering from the heinous crime.
Specifically, the new law establishes the felony crimes of sex trafficking, punishable by 3 to 25 years in prison and labor trafficking, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. The anti-trafficking law also increased criminal penalties for individuals convicted in the growing and sickening problem of sex tourism by subjecting travel agencies involved in arranging sex tours to a D felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.
Human trafficking will also be added to the Organized Crime Control Act allowing law enforcement officials to charge individuals in human trafficking with a separate B felony punishable by 3 to 25 years in prison.
Beyond strengthening criminal penalties, the comprehensive new law will provide essential support services for victims of human trafficking to help overcome the deep physical, emotional and mental scars associated with the crime.
The new law will provide restitution from the New York State Crime Victims Board for victims of human and sex trafficking. Additionally, victims will now be provided with support and assistance from the state Office of Temporary and Disability to find housing, health care, mental health counseling, drug treatment, language services and job training.
While we are taking major step in the fight against human trafficking with increased criminal penalties, we must remain sharply focused and constantly work on new ways to enhance our efforts in our on-going battle to end this crime. That is why the new law establishes an “interagency taskforce” that will collect data, coordinate with federal programs, develop new strategies to proactively combat human trafficking and increase public awareness on the issue.