This is the 150th year of the Emancipation Proclamation. Recently, I read what opponents of the Proclamation said back in 1862. They are quite interesting to read on this side of history. Some opponents argued: It didn’t free slaves in areas controlled by the Union; it would prolong the war by enraging the South even more; it would incite slaves to extreme violence against white Southerners. Today, we know that passing the Emancipation Proclamation was the right thing to do, and a pivotal point in our history. It led to the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery two years later.
Prop 35 has garnered enormous, and ever increasing, support from people and organizations throughout the state and nation. Prop 35 really is a no-brainer initiative. And Prop 35 is urgently needed to stop modern slavery in California.
The Prop 35 text is carefully drafted following the federal law and is co-authored by 23-veteran prosecutor and nationally recognized human trafficking expert, Sharmin Bock. Get the real scoop on Prop 35 from the horse’s mouth here.
But no matter what one does, there’s bound to be criticisms. While this is expected, I also believe in keeping people accountable to the factual accuracies of the statements made publicly to voters. First, voters deserve to get accurate information. More importantly, we have real lives at stake.
Recently, one op-ed was posted in the San Jose Mercury that is plagued by factually and legally inaccurate statements. I feel compelled to respond although I usually don’t respond to articles.
As the founder of California Against Slavery and a co-proponent of Prop 35, my advice is for voters to read the initiative text, the analysis in your official voter guide from the nonpartisan Legislative Analysis Office, and come to their own conclusion.
Here are a few of the facts that the writers of this ope-ed got wrong:
1) Prop 35 will be a huge step forward to stop human trafficking. It is never meant to be the last step. The fight to end *all* forms of trafficking is a long one both locally and globally.
Prop 35 makes critical changes to California law by:
- Increasing prison terms for ALL human traffickers to match federal sentences.
- Requiring convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders.
- Requiring all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts as states such as New York already have.
- Requiring criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to fund services to help victims.
- Mandating human trafficking training for law enforcement.
- Providing trafficking victims the same level of protection afforded rape victims have under the Rape Shield Law.
- Removing the requirement to prove force in a child sex trafficking case.
2) Prop 35 sets a baseline but doesn’t prevent police departments from giving their officers more training. The two-hour is the minimum, not the maximum. It is far better than the status quo – which is none. Honestly, I don’t follow this op-ed writers’ logic of how the status quo of zero training would improve the “crime prevention strategy.” And the required training applies to *all* field officers, not just specialized units.
Prop 35 has garnered support from every major law enforcement groups in the state. For most, this is the *first* time that they have taken an official position against human trafficking. With the strong support and increase awareness, we believe that we will start seeing a shift in law enforcement culture and attitude toward victims. Vote Yes on 35!
3) By California State Constitution, victims restitution must be paid first before fines. This was enacted through Marcy’s Law which voters passed in 2008 (Prop 9). Prop 35 does not alter this. Instead, Prop 35 creates a new stream of funding for victim services.
4) The sentencing structure of Prop 35 mirrors that of the federal human trafficking law, implemented in 2000, and is consistent with other states like New York and Texas. For instance, under federal law labor trafficking is up to 20 years, and sex trafficking is 10-to-life for adults and 15-to-life for minors.
5) We are not alone. Trafficking survivors, over 60 organizations (representing many more individuals) that provide services and advocate for victims and survivors, over 100 other community groups, child advocates, like Marc Klaas and John Walsh, law enforcement organizations, district attorneys from around the state, national/state/local elected officials…are all saying VOTE YES ON 35.
MISSSEY has served 1000 exploited children in Oakland since 2007. Here’s a statement from a LTE written by Nola Brantley:
“As executive director of a group whose sole focus is the healing and empowerment of trafficking victims and survivors, we were appalled to see Prop. 35 characterized as anything other than a vital protection for women and girls being exploited…”
6) Claiming that Prop is ” broad, vague, and legally ambiguous” without any evidence seems to be quite broad, vague, and ambiguous. According to Sharmin Bock, veteran prosecutor, “The only change that Prop 35 makes to the current definition of human trafficking is the expansion of the list of trafficking violations to include the production of child pornography.” And “Prop 35 is narrowly tailored and specifically states that there must be criminal intent to violate the law. Prop 35 not only requires the showing that the trafficker causes a child ‘to engage in a commercial sex act’ but also ‘with the intent to effect or maintain a violation of Section,’ and it lists 12 different existing criminal sections in our state law.” Please read Sharmin’s op-ed.
Prop 35 is a huge and important step forward, and will awareness to millions and is an opportunity for citizens to take a real stand against human trafficking.
FINALLY, this is a huge issue that no single bill or campaign can end. We strongly urge organizations to work on policy solutions that they believe are critical to their constituents. California Against Slavery has sent groups to lobby in our State Capitol for various bills addressing one or more forms of human trafficking. We need many more groups in Sacramento voicing their concerns. We are all working toward the same goal – ending the scourge of human trafficking so that no one is a victim.