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Legislation Would Allow Prosecutors To Seize Assets Of Human Traffickers

Bill Would Also Provide Legal Relief For Victims


A bill that got a hearing this week would allow prosecutors to seize the assets of human traffickers and provide legal relief for sex-trafficking victims.

The bill’s author, state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, said requiring convicted traffickers to forfeit the profits and assets they earned by enslaving their victims should deter at least some of them from reoffending after they serve their sentence.

“Traffickers are often willing to serve the time as long as they have their money waiting for them,” said Loudenbeck. “Asset forfeiture is a strong penalty because it hits the trafficker where it hurts.”

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Most of the victims of human trafficking are young women forced into prostitution. The provisions in the bill that provide legal relief for these victims have strong support from domestic violence prevention advocates.

Tony Gibart, of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, said they shouldn’t be treated as prostitutes.

“Under our law, a child is not legally able to consent to sexual activity, so it really doesn’t make any sense that a child could be convicted of prostitution,” said Gibart. “I think this bill takes us in the right direction. It provides a way for the criminal justice system to talk to the child welfare system and to get those children services”

Some critics of the bill want to add provisions that would require the state to advocate more aggressively for sex-trafficking victims.