Bill to up penalties for sex trafficking unanimously passes the House

By: Dee DeQuattro

Email: ddequattro@abc6.com

Twitter: @deedequattro

A bill that would keep people convicted of sex trafficking behind bars longer unanimously passed the Rhode Island House of Representatives on Thursday.

Representative Doreen Costa proposed the legislation saying the state needs to take steps to strengthen its human trafficking laws. Costa's bill increases the prison sentence for sex traffickers to 35 years from the current 20 years and ups the fines for the crime from $20,000 to $40,000.

“Rhode Island criminalized human trafficking in 2009.  That is just five short years ago. Think about that! Together we have taken the next step to stand up for the victims of sex trafficking in our state by strengthening our laws,” said Costa.

Costa said that she hopes by bringing this crime to the forefront it may also inspire people to volunteer and help victims. “Consider the nightmare of being taken against your will by a sex predator, to be forced into that dark, scary world with no where to turn. We have many voices in our state who speak out for victims but they don't always get the support or the headlines that they deserve for their heart wrenching work.”

The bill must now be approved by the Senate, then signed by the governor.

(C) WLNE-TV 2014