California Republicans were pleased with a decision in the state legislature to try to push through a bill that would increase penalties for child traffickers.
A bill by Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove would add child trafficking to a list of serious felonies in California. Under the proposed bill, anyone convicted of at least three serious felonies faces a prison sentence of between 25 years to life in prison under the state's three strikes law, CBS News reports.
Initially, the Democrats who control the Assembly Public Safety Committee decided not to approve the bill because of the long prison sentences, but last week, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom intervened, and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas also publicly pledged to "get it right."
Last week, the Public Safety Committee met again, and four Democrats — including chair Reggie Jones-Sawyer — joined Republicans to move the bill out of the committee ahead of a legislative deadline.
The bill now must be reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where Jones-Sawyer said he will ask for amendments that will protect victims of child trafficking from being penalized and make sure the legislation doesn't disproportionately affect people of color.
"We shouldn't be playing politics. We should be coming together — together — to move this forward so that everybody is safe," Jones-Sawyer told reporters after the hearing. "I'm going to make a commitment to do everything in my power to get it on the governor's desk so he can sign it."
Jones-Sawyer told reporters he met with Grove the day before the committee meeting — a meeting he said "answered some of my questions."
Grove called it "a day for Californians to celebrate."
"There's no reason to take amendments. It's a very narrowly tailored bill addressing human trafficking of a minor child — selling a child for sex." Grove said. "It needs to be passed as is.
"We don't want anyone who's a victim of a violent crime like human trafficking to be charged or put in prison for that," she said. "That is not my intent. that is not what the bill says."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Sveta Zi
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.