Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) announced today that legislation passed the Senate to increase penalties for human trafficking. The bill includes those brought to the U.S. for involuntary domestic servitude such as the two Indonesian women recently discovered being held captive by a wealthy couple living in Muttontown. According to reports, these women were brought to the U.S. under the belief they were being hired as housekeepers. It was determined that one of the women was paid only $100 per month despite working 21 hours per day, seven days per week for nearly five years.
"If slavery can happen in Muttontown, it can happen anywhere proving that this problem goes far beyond the beliefs of many," said Senator Marcellino who is a sponsor of the legislation and whose district includes Muttontown. "These women, came to the United States under false pretense, forced into long days of labor, physically abused, and threatened. Those who commit such heinous crimes must pay a hefty penalty to help distract others from doing the same."
The bill (S.5902) will establish a new felony crime of sex trafficking, punishable by 3 to 25 years in prison and labor trafficking, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. The bill also cracks down on the growing 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. Also, Human trafficking will be added to the Organized Crime Control Act. Under this provision, human trafficking will be a separate B felony with a criminal penalty of 3 to 25 years imprisonment.
The legislation will specifically target the methods used by traffickers to induce or compel their victims into sexual or labor servitude. These methods include providing drugs, making false statements, withholding or destroying immigration documents, debt bondage and coercive conduct such as causing or threatening to cause physical injury or property damage, committing a crime or unlawfully imprisoning the victim, threatening to accuse the victim of a crime and threatening deportation.
Additionally, the bill provides compensation from the NYS Crime Victims Board for victims of human and sex trafficking. Victims will also be provided assistance from the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to obtain needed services such as housing, health care, mental health counseling, drug treatment, language services and job training. It also includes law enforcement coordination with the federal government to help victims obtain special visas that allow victims to remain in the United State to testify against traffickers, and eventually become eligible for refugee status.
Under the bill, an "interagency taskforce on human trafficking" will be established to collect data, coordinate with federal programs, develop new strategies to combat trafficking, protect victims and increase public awareness on the issue.
It has been estimated by the U.S. Department of State, that as many as 20,000 people are trafficked into the United States annually for forced labor, involuntary domestic servitude, or sexual exploitation. New York is a frequent port of entry for such activity.
Twenty-four other states have enacted laws against human trafficking.