PA 06-43—sSB 153

Judiciary Committee

Public Safety and Security Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

SUMMARY: This act enhances criminal and civil penalties for people who coerce others to perform labor or engage in prostitution (“traffic in persons”). It authorizes the state to prosecute traffickers under the racketeering statute when there is a pattern of such activity and to seize property related to the crime.

The act also adds members to the Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons and expands its responsibilities. It appropriates funds for training, witness protection and victim services, and temporary shelter. (PA 06-187 repeals the appropriations. )

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2006, except the task force provisions, which are effective upon passage.

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ( 1)

Under the act, a person commits this crime when he coerces a victim to force or induce her to engage in prostitution or work. By law, coercion occurs when the actor makes the victim fear that if she does not comply with his demands, he or another person will:

1. commit a crime;

2. accuse someone else of committing a crime; or

3. expose a secret that could subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or impair his credit or business reputation.

The act makes trafficking in persons a class B felony. By law, other coercion offenses are either class D felonies or class A misdemeanors (see Table on Penalties).

RACKETEERING ( 2)

The act subjects a person or enterprise that engages in a pattern of trafficking to prosecution under the Corrupt Organization Racketeering Act (CORA). It also applies to attempts, conspiracies, and aiding and abetting in the commission of the crime.

A pattern is established under CORA by at least two incidents within a five-year period that have the same or similar purposes, results, participants, victims, or methods of commission.

CORA Penalties

CORA violators are subject to imprisonment for up to 20 years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both. They are also subject to the fines and penalties associated with the underlying crimes themselves. They forfeit to the state all property acquired, maintained, or used in racketeering activities.

CIVIL LAWSUITS

Against Employers ( 3)

The act authorizes the attorney general to file suit, at the labor commissioner's request, against an employer who employs workers he knows are being coerced by someone else to work for him. Violators may be fined up to $10,000 for each violation. The court may also order other appropriate relief.

By Victims ( 4)

The act allows victims to sue for either (1) their actual damages or (2) statutory damages of up to $1,000 for each day they were coerced to work or engage in prostitution. In either case, the trafficker must pay the victim's reasonable attorneys fees.

Victims may file their suits either in Hartford Superior Court or in the Superior Court for the district in which they live.

TRAINING PROGRAM ( 6 & 9)

The act directs the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), in conjunction with the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POSTC), to develop a training program on trafficking in persons. Training must be provided to state and local police departments, prosecutors, and community organizations upon request.

The act appropriates $25,000 and $50,000 for FY 07 to PCSW and POSTC, respectively, to implement the training program. (PA 06-187 repeals these appropriations. )

PROTECTIVE SERVICES ( 10)

The act appropriates $75,000 for FY 07 to the Criminal Justice Division for witness protection services for cooperating trafficking victims at risk of harm. (PA 06-187 repeals this appropriation and instead transfers this amount from the Judicial Department's Victim Services Account. )

SHELTER AND VICTIM SERVICES ( 11)

The act appropriates $25,000 for FY 07 to the Judicial Department and directs that the Office of Victim Services use it to contract with a community provider for shelter and other services for trafficking victims. (PA 06-187 repeals this appropriation. )

INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ( 7)

The act adds four members to the existing 25-member Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons. The chief court administrator appoints three; one must represent the Office of Victim Services and one must represent the Court Support Services Division. The fourth new member is the victim advocate.

By law, the task force collects information about trafficking in Connecticut; identifies federal, state, and local victim services and collaborative models; and evaluates approaches to increase public awareness of trafficking. It also recommends legislative changes and other actions to reduce trafficking crimes.

The act requires it to implement public awareness strategies. It must also identify criteria for providing victim services and address access to rights, benefits, and services for trafficking victims, including:

1. medical and related professional services,

2. legal services and protections,

3. safe housing and shelter,

4. voluntary repatriation,

5. victim compensation, and

6. protection while in custody.

The task force must report its recommendations to the legislature by January 1, 2007.

BACKGROUND

Trafficking in Persons

Existing law defines “trafficking” as all acts involved in recruiting, abducting, transporting, harboring, transferring, selling, or receiving people within national or across international borders using force, coercion, fraud, or deception, to place them in situations of slavery or slavery-like conditions; forced labor or services, such as forced prostitution or sexual services; domestic servitude; bonded sweatshop labor; or other debt bondage (SA 04-8).

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