Maryland: Take Action on Human Trafficking Legislation

The 2010 Maryland State Legislative session begins on January 13th, and bills will be introduced to address the brutal industry of human trafficking in Maryland. Please join us in taking action to support legislation to punish the criminals, provide needed assistance to the victims who they abuse, and raise awareness about sex and labor trafficking that is occurring right here in Maryland. February 4th is Maryland Human Trafficking Lobby Day – the perfect opportunity to engage your legislators on this important legislation!

Victims of sex and labor trafficking in Maryland,  include U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.  Sex trafficking occurs in pimp-controlled street prostitution, commercial-front massage parlors, and closed-network residential brothels.  Victims are increasingly advertised on internet sites like Craigslist.  Cases over the past two years in the state have included sex trafficking of minors as well as adults.  Victims of labor trafficking are typically found in domestic servitude and in agriculture, and even in traveling sales crews selling candy or magazine subscriptions.  Victims of human trafficking face a horrific life in which they are threatened, beaten, raped, starved, locked up, or psychologically manipulated – all for one reason: financial profit for traffickers.

Maryland has many cases of human trafficking – and without a strong law to penalize traffickers, it will continue to be a destination state for sex and labor trafficking.  Three important bills are poised for introduction, that will change this!

  1. Asset forfeiture legislation will mandate that all money and valuables of a person convicted of human trafficking, used in connection with, or gained from human trafficking, will be forfeited to the state.  Proceeds from seized assets will create a self-funding mechanism for investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking, as well as assistance for victims. (Sponsors: Senator Forehand, and Delegates Dumais and Shewell)
  2. Legislation to increase penalties for criminals who subject adults to human trafficking and penalize those who knowingly take part in such criminal networks willincrease the risks for human traffickers. (Sponsors: Senator Forehand, and Delegates Waldstreicher and Dumais)
  3. Hotline posting legislation will increase public awareness of human trafficking and provide increased visibility to help victims of human trafficking by requiring certain establishments to post the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. (Sponsors: Delegates Hucker and Benson)

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Please think about giving this important issue a bit of your time – there
are a number of ways to help!

1.  You can help by reaching out to legislators in person at the Maryland Human Trafficking Lobby Day!   Face to face meetings are an excellent way to ensure that human trafficking is recognized as a serious crime and that legislators take steps to address it – and you don’t need to be an expert or have any experience in lobbying to take part!  We will provide you with fact sheets on the bills and be there to teach you how to lobby.  If you like we can even attend the meeting with you.
Here are the details:
What:  Maryland Human Trafficking Lobby Day
Who: Everyone in Maryland is invited!
Where: 302 Lowe House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD (bring I.D.)
When: Thursday, February 4 from 11-4 (come for as little or as much time as you like!)
How:  On lobby day, dedicated staff will provide information on the pending bills, and prepare you for the meetings with your legislators.  All you need to do is: Determine who your legislators are by going to http://mdelect.net/electedofficals (type in your address and your state legislators will appear on the left hand side) and then simply call their office and let them know you are attending the MD Human Trafficking Lobby Day on February 4th and that you would like to meet with them to discuss human trafficking legislation.
RSVP is not required but is helpful. Please contact jjanovsky@polarisproject.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to sign up or for any additional assistance.

2.  Whether you can make the lobby day or not, please call your legislators (you will likely talk to a staff member) and urge them to cosponsor this human trafficking legislation. Note that there will not be a number for the bill until after it is introduced.  You can use this script or personalize your message:

“Hi, my name is [   ], and I am a constituent of [  ]. I am calling to urge [   ] to cosponsor anti-human trafficking legislation that will be introduced soon.  The first creates an asset forfeiture provision for those who commit human trafficking; the second increases penalties for human trafficking; and the third requires posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline by certain establishments.  Will the Senator/Delegate cosponsor this important legislation?”

If your legislators would like more information or wish to cosponsor, ask them to contact the sponsors (Delegates Dumais, Benson, Shewell or Waldstreicher, or Senator Forehand).

3. After you make your call, please follow up with a short email to thank them for their time (even if you spoke to a staff person) and restate your message of what you would like them to do.

4. Lastly, please urge everyone you know to attend Lobby Day on the 4th and make the same call!

Thank you for taking action to end human trafficking in Maryland!

Maryland Cases of Human Trafficking

source: http://actioncenter.polarisproject.org/component/content/article/35-action/770-maryland-take-action-on-human-trafficking-legislation

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