(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today expressed his support for a new law signed by Governor John Kasich. House Bill 262, sponsored by Representative Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), also known as the Safe Harbor Law, focuses on human trafficking and will increase the penalties for suspects and improve care for victims.
"Human trafficking is happening in Ohio and we must do everything possible to stop it," said Attorney General DeWine. "Many of the victims of these crimes don't know what to do once they're no longer chained to the sex trade. This law will help us help them."
The new law will:
• Create new procedures for a diversion program for juvenile trafficking victims
• Allow records of adult human trafficking victims to be expunged
• Change a human trafficking charge to a first degree felony with a mandatory prison term of at least ten years in prison
• Require convicted human traffickers to register as sex offenders
In 2011, Attorney General DeWine established a Human Trafficking Commission to find solutions Ohio's human trafficking problem. Members of the commission recently worked in partnership with the Governor's Human Trafficking Task Force to develop ideas and recommendations that could be used in conjunction with the Safe Harbor Law.
Members of the Human Trafficking Task Force submitted those recommendations to Governor Kasich today. Some of the recommendations include:
• Adopting a response protocol model to be used for the treatment of human trafficking victims
• Providing youth prevention services to at-risk youth
• Providing training for law enforcement, nurses, and teachers
• Creating a statewide public awareness campaign on human trafficking
• Creating a statewide hotline number for victims, law enforcement, and the public
"My office fully supports the recommendations made to the Governor today, and I look forward to working with him on this issue," said DeWine. "Law enforcement can't solve the human trafficking problem alone, which is why teaching the public about the problem is so crucial."
The newly signed Safe Harbor Law goes into effect immediately.