State legislators take another step to crack down on human trafficking in Nebraska.
Senators vote 48-to-nothing to greatly increase penalties against those who traffic or solicit people for the sex trade or the slave trade.
“With that approval, we have sent a message loud and clear that human trafficking will no longer be tolerated in the state of Nebraska,” according to Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, who sponsors LB 289.
Pansing Brooks praises the Unicameral for taking a step last year to help the victims of human trafficking. She says this year, the legislature moved to stop the supply and demand.
Attorney General Doug Peterson says the legislature has been consistent in its voting on the issue.
“In a very important element of our human trafficking law, because this important element is the penalty phase which sends a message to traffickers that if its labor trafficking or sex trafficking, we don’t allow slavery in Nebraska,” Peterson tells reporters during a Capitol Rotunda news conference.
LB 289 imposes harsh penalties on a wide variety of human trafficking offenses.
Pandering had no minimum penalty and a maximum prison sentence of four years. Under the bill, a minimum of a year in prison would be imposed with a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. Sex trafficking of an adult through the use of threat or force moves from having no minimum prison sentence to a year in prison as the minimum with the maximum penalty moving from 20 years to 50 years in prison.
The bill saves its harshest penalties for those who traffic children. Someone convicted of trafficking a minor for sex now faces a maximum penalty of 20 or 50 years in prison depending on the age of the minor and whether force was used. The bill makes no such distinction and imposes a minimum 20-year prison sentence with a maximum of life in prison.
LB 289 now goes to Gov. Pete Ricketts for his signature.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]