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Legislature continues work supporting victims of human trafficking

For the Reporter

The state Legislature built on its 2013 work to combat human trafficking by supporting victims forced into prostitution and increasing penalties on traffickers.

As the Senate Floor Leader Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) ensured two key measures made it through the Senate successfully. One plan would allow people exploited as minors to have criminal records removed. A second successful measure would increase penalties against traffickers.

"Too often victims of sex trafficking suffer severe personal and legal consequences while those that forced them into the situation get away with much less," Fain said. "Legal records for those forced into prostitution as a minor shouldn't prohibit their ability to get a job and participate fully in society."

Fain represents South King County where human trafficking has been increasingly targeted through local law enforcement initiatives and a countywide education campaign.

"We're blessed to have many citizens in our community interested in ending human trafficking," Fain said. "One great example is the Southeast King County Coalition Against Trafficking, a relatively new group of representatives from schools, law enforcement and volunteer organizations. Their goal is supported through education, outreach and strong community partnerships."

Fain attended the group's monthly meeting in November and was encouraged by their progress and dedication.

"Victims who have escaped and begin living the life they want can lose out on educational opportunities, work the job they want or help out in the community with a record they have no control over," continued Fain. "Victims must be given the chance to stay start anew, away from those who did them so much harm. These bills are another important step toward punishing the trafficker and supporting the victim."

Both measures passed the Legislature unanimously and now head to the governor to be signed into law. Lawmakers are in the 54th day of the 2014 60-day session.

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