Issue: Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act
The legislation may place additional responsibilities on courts.
Courts are uniquely positioned to identify this crime and help victims. Work to improve education/training among courts and other stakeholders (CCJ/COSCA Resolution 16 M 12)
A number of bills have been introduced in the House and Senate during the 114th Congress, which aim to further curb the growth of human trafficking. A comprehensive bill, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178) was introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). Some of the provisions of the final negotiated bill follow.
- The Domestic Trafficking Victims' Fund is established to award grants to states and localities to combat trafficking, provide protection and assistance for victims of trafficking, develop and implement child abuse investigation and prosecution programs, and provide services for victims of child pornography.
- Three-year renewable block grants, administered by DOJ, are authorized to develop, improve, or expand domestic child human trafficking deterrence programs that assist law enforcement and other entities in rescuing and restoring the lives of trafficking victims. Grant funds may be used for the establishment or enhancement of: (1) specialized training programs for law enforcement officers, first responders, health care and child welfare officials, juvenile justice personnel, prosecutors, and judicial personnel to identify victims and acts of child human trafficking and facilitate the rescue of child victims of human trafficking; (2) anti-trafficking law enforcement units and task forces to investigate child human trafficking offenses and to rescue victims; and (3) problem solving court programs for trafficking victims.
- The definition of "child abuse" under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 is expanded to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography.
- The Crime Control Act of 1990 is amended to: (1) require state reports on missing children to include a recent photograph of the missing child (if available), (2) reduce from 60 days to 30 days the period for verifying and updating records on missing children in a state law enforcement system and in National Crime Information Center computer networks, and (3) require notification to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of each report received of a child reported missing from a foster care family home or childcare institution.
- The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 is amended to authorize DOJ to give preferential consideration in awarding public safety and community-oriented policing (COPS) grants to an application from a state that has in effect a law that: (1) treats a minor who has engaged in, or has attempted to engage in, a commercial sex act as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons; (2) discourages or prohibits the charging or prosecution of such individual for a prostitution or sex trafficking offense based on such conduct; and (3) encourages the diversion of such an individual to appropriate service providers.
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 is amended to authorize DOJ to give preferential consideration of public safety and COPS grant program grant applications from states that have in effect a law that: (1) provides a process by which a human trafficking survivor can move to vacate any arrest or conviction records for a non-violent offense committed as a direct result of human trafficking, including prostitution or lewdness; (2) establishes a rebuttable presumption that any arrest or conviction of an individual for a human trafficking offense is a result of being trafficked if such individual has been granted nonimmigrant status as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, is certified by HHS as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons or has other similar documentation of trafficking; (3) protects the identify of individuals who are human trafficking survivors in public and court records; and (4) does not require an individual who is a human trafficking survivor to provide official documentation in order to receive protection under the law.
On 4/ 22/15, the Senate approved S. 178 by a 99-0 vote. On 5/1/15 the House passed S. 178 by a vote of 430-3. The President signed the bill into law on 5/29/15. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act is now Public Law No: 114-022. S. 1311 and S. 1312 have been introduced that would reauthorize programs under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2013 (PL 113-4).
We are trying to clarify that courts are eligible entities to receive funding under this law.