New Bill seeks to increase Human Trafficking penalties

Posted By: Nicole Cousins

A new bill aims to crack down human traffickers and purchasers in Nebraska.

Introduced by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks on the same day as National Human Trafficking Awareness day, the bill would increase penalties for those who enslave or buy someone being trafficked.

"This is a serious terrible problem in Nebraska,” Pansing Brooks said. “If a child is trafficked and abused significantly, the penalty could be up to life in prison, and right now the minimum is that they could just get probation."

Pansing Brooks and Attorney General Doug Peterson have teamed up with the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force and the Woman’s Fund of Omaha to bring the new legislation forward.

This new bill follows a law that was passed last year, making a person being trafficked a victim rather than a criminal.

It doesn’t just aim to target large-scale sex trafficking networks in the Midwest. It also focuses on small sting operations; an example would be a drug addict soliciting his or her daughter for profit.

""This is basically human slavery," Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said. "There’s people who are trafficking minor girls and boys for profit."

Now, lawmakers want to focus on those true criminals — those who are trafficking and purchasing the victims.

The proposed bill would increase the penalties those criminals can face. In some cases, it would change the punishment from what’s now considered a slap on the wrist to significant jail time — even 50 years to life in prison.

"The penalties right now are not very significant for traffickers or purchasers in this hideous criminal activity," Pansing Brooks said.

"I don’t hesitate for a heartbeat to put these people in jail," Peterson said. "We are talking about serious criminals."

The bill was introduced Wednesday.  It still has to be referred to a committee, discussed and voted on before becoming a law.

You can read the bill here.

To see how the penalties per offense will change if the bill is introduced to law, click here.