According to the Attorney General’s office, there have been 112 confirmed cases of human trafficking in Indiana since 2005. Human trafficking is a global problem and the quickest growing crime worldwide. This despicable trade is estimated to annually generate over $32 billion dollars in illicit activity across the world. In U.S., the average age of American minors in the sex trade is between 13 and 16 years old. Foreign nationals are also trafficked into our country to work in the sex trade and under forced labor conditions.
As of 2010, 12.3 million adults and children were involved in forced labor, bonded labor or forced prostitution. In order to fight against these atrocious acts, Indiana legislators have put forth legislation in past to strengthen the penalties against human traffickers, which was enacted prior to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, and to allow the Attorney General to begin investigations from his office, which will give law enforcement another ally in this global problem.
I am confident that SEA 291 will strengthen our abilities to combat this crime, just as we were able to better protect Hoosiers and other citizens when the Super Bowl was held in 2011. Three years ago, we enacted legislation that made human trafficking a Class B felony. This crime was also further defined as anyone who recruited, harbored or transported another person by force or fraud, including children as well as those above 18 years of age. This law was expanded even more in 2013 to broaden the scope of potential cases in order to allow more thorough investigations.
I am proud to be a part of a legislature that takes such a strong stand against human traffickers and actively combat the felonies these criminals commit against women and children. Our state is a leader, and we want to do everything we can to protect young women and children as well as any other vulnerable Hoosiers. As our state continues to be recognized for its amenities and hospitality and more popular social, entertainment and sporting events are held here, public safety should never be compromised.
Currently in Indiana, the attorney general does not hold the same level of authority as law enforcement to access, maintain or investigate information involved with human trafficking. SEA 291 gives him that authority. In providing the attorney general with more investigative power, Indiana can continue to fight against human trafficking crimes more thoroughly and expeditiously. This bill has been passed by both the Senate and House and awaits the governor’s signature to become law.
Through the creation of additional policies and leaders to help fight against human traffickers, Indiana will have more security to protect the public from the criminals that are involved with trafficking.