Proposed Trafficking Legislation for Texas 86th Session
The Texas Model:
Texas has been talking about demand reduction for nearly four years. For even longer, we have been searching for methods to successfully connect prostituted individuals with services. The Texas Model accomplishes both goals while setting a new, innovative standard for other states to follow. Under this model, prostituted individuals (“sellers”) receive mandatory probation for their first prostitution offense and once again on their fourth offense when the penalty increases to the felony level. This provision puts sellers in greater contact with state services and increases their chances of exiting the life of prostitution while also relieving our overcrowded prison system. Conversely, the penalty for buyers increases to a state jail felony, which will both deter future buying and finally make good on our state’s commitment to decreasing the demand for trafficking victims.
Amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to allow victims of human trafficking to seal convictions for prostitution, drug possession, and petty theft offenses they received as a direct result of being trafficked. Victims of human trafficking deserve a chance to normalize and rebuild their lives. Without a way to seal these convictions, traffickers will continue to prey on their victim’s vulnerability to housing and employment discrimination and the stigmas associated with prostitution. Providing victims of human trafficking with a dedicated, streamlined path to nondisclosure gives them a chance to rebuild their lives free from the bonds of slavery, so that they can become productive citizens. Just as the removal of a trafficker’s tattooed name or brand has a healing effect on survivors of human trafficking, record sealing will allow victims to change both the way they are viewed and how they view themselves.
Local Control and Increased School Training:
Mandate human trafficking training for school board trustees and/or school superintendents in order to create a ‘trickle down’ effect. Texas created human trafficking curriculum for school administrators, but did not mandate that districts use these training. By requiring the training of the persons governing school districts, we can get leadership engaged on and aware of the issue of human trafficking. These leaders may then require that additional trainings take place in their respective districts in a manner that best fits their districts’ needs.
Deter Illicit Massage Businesses (IMBs):
IMBs are fronts for prostitution and sex trafficking. Because they are often cash-only businesses, they are also magnets for burglary and armed robbery. Over 35,000 Texas schoolchildren attend a school that is within 1000 feet of an IMB. Most IMBs occupy leased commercial space, many are adjacent to stores and restaurants frequented by families— sometimes even day care facilities. For their protection and the safety of their customers, legitimate businesses need the ability to void their leases if the person or entity leasing to them also leases to an unlicensed IMB within the commercial vicinity.