McNamara working to put more human traffickers behind bars

Posted by: Jordan Wallace  | Monday, January 11, 2021

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 11, 2021) – State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) is working to further combat human trafficking in Indiana.

As chair of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, McNamara is authoring legislation that would provide additional protections for young victims, ensure more traffickers are sentenced and increase their time behind bars.  

"The trauma human trafficking victims face while being exploited for labor or sex services is unimaginable, and as a state, we can do more to protect them and get criminals prosecuted to the fullest extent," McNamara said. "My legislation would also allow victims of any crime who are 14 years old or younger to testify by video for court proceedings instead of repeatedly facing their aggressor in person. This is a common-sense approach to prevent further harm to those who have already been through so much."

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 157 human trafficking cases were reported in Indiana in 2019, which is a 19% increase from 2018.

McNamara's legislation would increase sentencing for offenders whose victims are under the age of 18, require local agencies to report investigations of human trafficking to the Indiana Attorney General's office and make it a crime for offering, agreeing to or paying a third party for acts committed by a victim. She said current law states a person commits human trafficking only if they pay or offer to pay a victim.

"Coordinated efforts at the state and local levels will produce better results for victims and ensure more criminals are locked up so they do not hurt others," McNamara said.

She also authored a resolution recognizing January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and observing Jan. 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day. This resolution is in conjunction with a local proclamation from Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.

January is also National Sex Trafficking Awareness Month, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security encourages Hoosiers to wear blue this month to stand with survivors and spread awareness.

House Bill 1200 is assigned to the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more.

If someone is suspected to be a victim of human trafficking, report it to the Indiana Department of Child Services at 1-800-800-5556 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

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State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) represents House District 76, 
which includes portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.