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Robert S.
Democrat VA 3

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  • Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act of 2015

    by Representative Robert C. "Bobby" Scott

    Posted on 2015-01-27

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    SCOTT of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.



    I rise in opposition to H.R. 285, the SAVE Act. While I support the underlying goal of ensuring that those who facilitate sex trafficking through advertising are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, I am opposed to the bill's mandatory minimum sentencing provisions.

    Mandatory minimum sentences have been studied extensively and have been found to distort rational sentencing systems, discriminate against minorities, waste money, and often require a judge to impose sentences that violate common sense. To add insult to injury, studies have shown that mandatory minimum sentences fail to reduce crime.

    Under this bill, the advertising of sex trafficking will result in a mandatory penalty of 10 or 15 years, depending on the circumstances of the crime. There is no doubt that many of these individuals prosecuted under this bill should receive long prison sentences, but in some cases a mandatory sentence of 10 or 15 years may not be justified.

    This is particularly troublesome when you consider the possible scope of defendants who could be prosecuted under the bill. Notably, the prohibition on advertising does not only apply to the sex trafficker who places the ad, or the employee who accepted the ad, but also includes those who benefit financially from the ad.

    {time} 1330 That is all of the employees, including the receptionist or the computer guy, everybody on the payroll who might have seen the ads or read in the paper that the company publishes some illegal ads but decided to look the other way; they should be held responsible under the provisions of the bill. And many of them would certainly warrant a sentence of 15 years or even more, but not all of them.

    Madam Speaker, mandatory minimum sentences didn't get into the criminal code at all once but one at a time, each one part of an otherwise good bill. If we expect to get rid of mandatory minimums, we have to first stop passing new ones like this.

    Madam Speaker, if people ask why a judge in Florida had to sentence Marissa Alexander to 20 years for firing a warning shot at her abusive boyfriend, or why some drug dealer's girlfriend got 25 years when she had no meaningful role in his drug dealing, or why the United States has 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's prisoners, they would not understand why anybody said they had to vote for a bill that further expands mandatory minimum sentences.

    Fifteen years in prison, mandatory for everybody on the payroll that gets caught up in this bill--that is what is in this bill. There is no discretion afforded to the judge. The sentence would have to be imposed, whether it makes any sense or not.

    Madam Speaker, if we expect to repeal mandatory minimum sentences, the first order of business is to stop passing new ones. This bill contains a new mandatory minimum that someday will require a judge to impose a sentence that violates common sense. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to vote ``no.'' Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte), the distinguished chair of the Judiciary Committee.

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