A picture of Senator Dianne Feinstein
Dianne F.
Democrat CA

About Sen. Dianne
  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Dianne Feinstein

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    FEINSTEIN (for herself, Mr. Portman, Mr. Cornyn, Mrs. Gillibrand, and Mr. Kirk): S. 140. A bill to combat human trafficking; to the Committee on the Judiciary.



    Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to re-introduce, along with Senator Portman, the Combat Human Trafficking Act of 2015.

    Human trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion criminal enterprise, making it the second largest criminal industry in the world, behind the drug trade. Many steps need to be taken to combat this problem. But we cannot escape this simple truth: without demand for the services performed by trafficking victims, the problem would not exist.

    The bill we are introducing today would reduce the demand for human trafficking, particularly the commercial sexual exploitation of children, by holding buyers accountable and making it easier for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute all persons who participate in sex trafficking.

    Sex trafficking is not a victimless crime. In the United States, the average age that a person is first trafficked is between 12 and 14. Many of these children continue to be exploited into adulthood. A study of women and girls involved in street prostitution in my hometown of San Francisco found that 82 percent had been physically assaulted, 83 percent were threatened with a weapon, and 68 percent were raped. The overwhelming majority of sex trafficking victims in the United States are American citizens--83 percent by one estimate from the Department of Justice.

    I am encouraged that Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies are taking steps to combat human trafficking. Between January and June of last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recovered 168 trafficking victims and arrested 281 sex traffickers in ``Operation Cross Country.'' I commend these efforts, but more needs to be done to target the perpetrators who are fueling demand for trafficking crimes--the buyers of sex acts from trafficking victims. Many buyers of sex are ``hobbyists'' who purchase sex repeatedly. Because buyers are rarely arrested, much less prosecuted, the demand for commercial sex continues unabated.

    [[Page S106]] Without buyers, sex trafficking would cease to exist. As Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, noted, ``[n]o girl or woman would be a victim of sex trafficking if there were no profits to be made from their exploitation.'' The Combat Human Trafficking Act of 2015 would address this problem by incentivizing Federal and State law enforcement officers to target buyers and providing new authorities to prosecute all who engage in the crime of sex trafficking.

    First, the bill would clarify that buyers of sex acts from trafficking victims can be prosecuted under the Federal commercial sex trafficking statute. This provision would codify the Eighth Circuit's decision in United States v. Jungers, which held that this statute encompasses buyers, in addition to sellers. Despite this favorable ruling, there is no guarantee that other courts will follow this precedent.

    Second, the bill would hold buyers and sellers of child sex acts accountable for their actions, even if they claim they were unaware of the age of a minor victim. At times, it can be difficult for a prosecutor to prove that a buyer was aware of the victim's age. Successful cases can require the child victim to testify to this fact, subjecting the victim to re-traumatization. The bill would draw a clear line: if you purchase sex from an underage child, you can be prosecuted. Period.

    Third, the bill would grant judges greater flexibility to impose an appropriate term of supervised release on sex traffickers. Current law contains an anomaly: a person convicted of violating the commercial sex trafficking statute or attempting to violate the statute may be subject to a longer term of supervised release than a person who is convicted of conspiring to violate the statute. Conspiring to traffic underage children is as serious as attempting to commit this crime and should be punished the same.

    Fourth, the bill would require the Bureau of Justice Statistics to prepare annual reports on the number of arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of sex traffickers and buyers of sex from trafficked victims in the state court system. Very little data is available on the prosecutions made under anti-trafficking laws. This provision would provide additional data and encourage State and local governments to increase enforcement against sellers and buyers of sex from trafficked victims.

    Fifth, the Combat Human Trafficking Act would strengthen training programs operated by the Department of Justice for Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers who investigate and prosecute sex trafficking offenses. Under the bill, such training programs must include components on effective methods to target and prosecute the buyers of sex acts from trafficked victims. This would equip prosecutors with the tools they need to target buyers, encouraging prosecution of these perpetrators. Training programs must also train law enforcement in connecting trafficking victims with health care providers, so that victims receive the health care services they need to recover.

    In addition, the bill requires that training programs for federal prosecutors include components on seeking restitution for victims of sex trafficking. An October 2014 study by The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center found that federal prosecutors did not seek restitution in 37 percent of qualifying human trafficking cases brought between 2009 and 2012, even though restitution for trafficking victims is mandatory under federal law. When the prosecutor did not seek restitution, it was granted in only 10 percent of cases.

    These results make clear that prosecutors play a critical role in providing justice for trafficking victims. Our bill would ensure that prosecutors are specifically trained to seek restitution for victims.

    The bill would also require the Federal Judicial Center to provide training to judges on ordering restitution for human trafficking victims, so that judges are fully aware that federal law mandates that restitution be ordered for these victims. Overall, restitution was awarded in only 36 percent of qualifying human trafficking cases brought between 2009 and 2012, according to The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center's study. Too many trafficking victims are not receiving the compensation they need to rebuild their lives and to which they are entitled under the law.

    Sixth, the bill would authorize federal and state officials to seek a wiretap to investigate and prosecute any human trafficking-related offense. Under current law, a federal law enforcement officer may seek a wiretap in an investigation under the commercial sex trafficking statute, but not under a number of other statutes that address human trafficking-related offenses, such as forced labor and involuntary servitude. Similarly, a state law enforcement officer may seek a wiretap to investigate a kidnapping offense, but not an offense for human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, or child pornography production. Our bill would fix those omissions.

    Finally, this legislation would strengthen the rights of crime victims. The bill would amend the Crime Victims' Rights Act to provide victims with the right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea agreement or deferred prosecution agreement. The exclusion of victims in these early stages of a criminal case profoundly impairs victims' rights because, by the nature of these events, there often is no later proceeding in which victims can exercise their rights.

    The bill would also ensure that crime victims have access to appellate review when their rights are denied in the lower court. Regrettably, six appellate courts have mis-applied the Crime Victims' Rights Act by imposing an especially high standard for reviewing appeals by victims, requiring them to show ``clear and indisputable error''. Three other circuits have applied the correct standard: the ordinary appellate standard of legal error or abuse of discretion. This bill resolves the issue, setting a uniform standard for victims in all circuits by codifying the more victim-protecting rule, that the appellate court ``shall apply ordinary standards of appellate review.'' I am pleased that this bill has the support of numerous law enforcement and anti-trafficking organizations: the Fraternal Order of Police, Shared Hope International, ECPAT-USA, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, CATW, Human Rights Project for Girls, Survivors for Solutions, Sanctuary For Families, World Hope International, Prostitution Research & Education, MISSSEY, Breaking Free, Equality Now, National Organization for Victim Assistance, Seraphim Global, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, City of Oakland, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, and Casa Cornelia Law Center. These groups are on the forefront in the fight against sex trafficking, and I am proud to have their support.

    Many of the provisions in the Combat Human Trafficking Act were included in the substitute amendment to the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act, S. 2646, 113th Congress, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last September. However, that bill was not enacted into law before Congress adjourned. I am hopeful that we can pass the bipartisan Combat Human Trafficking in this Congress.

    I urge my colleagues to join me and Senator Portman in supporting this bill.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 140 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Combat Human Trafficking Act of 2015''.

    SEC. 2. REDUCING DEMAND FOR SEX TRAFFICKING; LOWER MENS REA FOR SEX TRAFFICKING OF UNDERAGE VICTIMS.

    (a) Clarification of Range of Conduct Punished as Sex Trafficking.--Section 1591 of title 18, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in subsection (a)(1), by striking ``or maintains'' and inserting ``maintains, patronizes, or solicits''; (2) in subsection (b)-- (A) in paragraph (1), by striking ``or obtained'' and inserting ``obtained, patronized, or solicited''; and (B) in paragraph (2), by striking ``or obtained'' and inserting ``obtained, patronized, or solicited''; and [[Page S107]] (3) by striking subsection (c) and inserting the following: ``(c) In a prosecution under subsection (a)(1), the Government need not prove that the defendant knew, or recklessly disregarded the fact, that the person recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, maintained, patronized, or solicited had not attained the age of 18 years.''.

    (b) Definition Amended.--Section 103(10) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7102(10)) is amended by striking ``or obtaining'' and inserting ``obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting''.

    (c) Minimum Period of Supervised Release for Conspiracy to Commit Commercial Child Sex Trafficking.--Section 3583(k) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting ``1594(c),'' after ``1591,''.

    SEC. 3. BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS REPORT ON STATE ENFORCEMENT OF SEX TRAFFICKING PROHIBITIONS.

    (a) Definitions.--In this section-- (1) the terms ``commercial sex act'', ``severe forms of trafficking in persons'', ``State'', and ``Task Force'' have the meanings given those terms in section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7102); (2) the term ``covered offense'' means the provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a commercial sex act involving a person subject to severe forms of trafficking in persons; and (3) the term ``State law enforcement officer'' means any officer, agent, or employee of a State authorized by law or by a State government agency to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of criminal law.

    (b) Report.--The Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics shall-- (1) prepare an annual report on-- (A) the rates of-- (i) arrest of individuals by State law enforcement officers for a covered offense; (ii) prosecution (including specific charges) of individuals in State court systems for a covered offense; and (iii) conviction of individuals in State court systems for a covered offense; and (B) sentences imposed on individuals convicted in State court systems for a covered offense; and (2) submit the annual report prepared under paragraph (1) to-- (A) the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives; (B) the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate; (C) the Task Force; (D) the Senior Policy Operating Group established under section 105(g) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7103(g)); and (E) the Attorney General.

    SEC. 4. LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, PROSECUTORS, AND JUDGES.

    (a) Definitions.--In this section-- (1) the terms ``commercial sex act'', ``severe forms of trafficking in persons'', and ``State'' have the meanings given those terms in section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7102); (2) the term ``covered offender'' means an individual who obtains, patronizes, or solicits a commercial sex act involving a person subject to severe forms of trafficking in persons; (3) the term ``Federal law enforcement officer'' has the meaning given the term in section 115 of title 18, United States Code; (4) the term ``local law enforcement officer'' means any officer, agent, or employee of a unit of local government authorized by law or by a local government agency to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of criminal law; and (5) the term ``State law enforcement officer'' means any officer, agent, or employee of a State authorized by law or by a State government agency to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of criminal law.

    (b) Training.-- (1) Law enforcement officers.--The Attorney General shall ensure that each anti-human trafficking program operated by the Department of Justice, including each anti-human trafficking training program for Federal, State, or local law enforcement officers, includes technical training on-- (A) effective methods for investigating and prosecuting covered offenders; and (B) facilitating the provision of physical and mental health services by health care providers to persons subject to severe forms of trafficking in persons.

    (2) Federal prosecutors.--The Attorney General shall ensure that each anti-human trafficking program operated by the Department of Justice for United States attorneys or other Federal prosecutors includes training on seeking restitution for offenses under chapter 77 of title 18, United States Code, to ensure that each United States attorney or other Federal prosecutor, upon obtaining a conviction for such an offense, requests a specific amount of restitution for each victim of the offense without regard to whether the victim requests restitution.

    (3) Judges.--The Federal Judicial Center shall provide training to judges relating to the application of section 1593 of title 18, United States Code, with respect to ordering restitution for victims of offenses under chapter 77 of such title.

    (c) Policy for Federal Law Enforcement Officers.--The Attorney General shall ensure that Federal law enforcement officers are engaged in activities, programs, or operations involving the detection, investigation, and prosecution of covered offenders.

    SEC. 5. WIRETAP AUTHORITY FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING VIOLATIONS.

    Section 2516 of title 18, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in paragraph (1)(c)-- (A) by inserting before ``section 1591'' the following: ``section 1581 (peonage), section 1584 (involuntary servitude), section 1589 (forced labor), section 1590 (trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor),''; and (B) by inserting before ``section 1751'' the following: ``section 1592 (unlawful conduct with respect to documents in furtherance of trafficking, peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor),''; and (2) in paragraph (2), by inserting ``human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, child pornography production,'' after ``kidnapping,''.

    SEC. 6. STRENGTHENING CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS.

    (a) Notification of Plea Agreement or Other Agreement.-- Section 3771(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following: ``(9) The right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea agreement or deferred prosecution agreement.''.

    (b) Appellate Review of Petitions Relating to Crime Victims' Rights.-- (1) In general.--Section 3771(d)(3) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the fifth sentence the following: ``In deciding such application, the court of appeals shall apply ordinary standards of appellate review.''.

    (2) Application.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) shall apply with respect to any petition for a writ of mandamus filed under section 3771(d)(3) of title 18, United States Code, that is pending on the date of enactment of this Act.

    ______ By Mr. CORNYN (for himself, Ms. Ayotte, Mr. Barrasso, Mr. Blunt, Mr. Boozman, Mr. Burr, Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Coats, Mr. Cochran, Ms. Collins, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Daines, Mrs. Fischer, Mr. Flake, Mr. Graham, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Heller, Mr. Hoeven, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Isakson, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Kirk, Mr. Moran, Mr. Paul, Mr. Portman, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Scott, Mr. Thune, Mr. Tillis, Mr. Toomey, and Mr. Wicker): S. 141. A bill to repeal the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act providing for the Independent Payment Advisory Board; to the Committee on Finance.

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