(PRESS RELEASE) COLUMBUS— State Representative Nick Santucci (R-Howland Twp.) and Josh Williams (R-Sylvania) have introduced the Human Trafficking Prevention Act that will increase criminal penalties for human trafficking, kidnapping, and abduction.
Ohio has the fourth-highest number of reported cases of human trafficking in the nation. Of those cases, more than 97% involved sex trafficking. Currently, Ohio law only allows for a prison term between 10 to 15 years for a person who has been convicted of human trafficking.
“We have a human trafficking problem in Ohio. Our message is clear: if you’re involved in human trafficking and come to our state, we will find you and send you to prison for life,” said Santucci.
“This legislation will demonstrate Ohio’s effort to hold these evil individuals accountable and enact justice for their victims.”
The Ohio House has emphasized cracking down on human trafficking and increasing awareness by codifying state law to recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11 each year. This legislation turns awareness into action by increasing penalties up to life in prison.
“I believe that we have a moral duty to rescue these victims and ensure that traffickers and abductors face an equitable sentence that reflects the trauma they have caused to the victims,” Williams said.
The Human Trafficking Prevention Act will also expand penalties that currently apply in circumstances where the victims are 13 years of age or younger to anyone under the age of 18.
If the victim is an adult, the legislation will increase the penalties to a minimum term of fifteen years and a maximum term of life imprisonment.
If the victim is a minor, the prison term would be increased to a minimum term of twenty-five years and a maximum term of life imprisonment. The legislation is awaiting assignment to a House committee.