House panel passes human trafficking bills

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A House committee has approved a package of bills aimed at combatting human trafficking.

The legislative package unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and now goes to the full House for a vote.

Among the proposals is House Bill 128, a measure to make it a first-degree felony when someone buys, sells or deals in infant children. The offense currently is a first-degree misdemeanor.

House Bill 2176 would add certain prohibited activities to existing law that, if committed, constitute the crime of unlawful contact with a minor.

House Bill 2177 would expand the list of sexual offenses that require offenders to participate in counseling and therapy programs designed for incarcerated sex offenders.

Another measure, House Bill 2178, would amend Pennsylvania’s child custody laws. Courts would have to consider whether a person or someone in their household has been convicted of human trafficking before awarding custody to that person.

Senate Bill 60 would double the maximum prison time for trafficking and for patronizing a victim of trafficking from 10 to 20 years.

House Bill 2174 would prohibit defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization and allegations of past sexual victimization in any prosecution related to human trafficking.

House Bill 2175 would expand the list of offenses where an expert may testify about the dynamics of sexual violence and victim responses to sexual violence.

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