Last week, the House Judiciary and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard two bills aimed at helping the fight against human trafficking in Texas.
One bill, HB-8, addresses both the punishment of offenders and the need for victim protection. HB-8, or Jessica’s Law, classifies any sexual solicitation of a minor or use of funds from the prostitution of a minor as a second-degree felony, a change from their previous classification as Class A misdemeanors. This bill also changes the sex offender enhancement to include indecency with a child.
HB-8 also protects victims of trafficking or similar sexual offenses by allowing them to maintain the confidentiality of their addresses and personal information through the Address Confidentiality Program. HB-8 would also make victims of human trafficking eligible to receive funding from the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program. Click here for more information on this bill.
The second bill, HB 386 further affects the way those charged with human trafficking are prosecuted. This bill increases the punishment for convictions of human trafficking, the aim of which is to deter other people from committing the same acts. State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) authored GB 386. Listen to her commentary on the bill here.
(Photo Source: The Texas Tribune)
Though both bills are still awaiting further committee review, they both hold great promise in the Texas fight against human trafficking.