A Democrat-run committee of the California State Assembly blocked a bill Tuesday that would have made trafficking a minor a “serious felony.” The Republican bill had already passed the State Senate unanimously.
Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) introduced the bill, SB 14, which also notes that California leads the nation in reported cases of human trafficking of minors. The inclusion of trafficking a minor as a “serious felony” would make that crime ineligible for plea bargaining in most circumstances and would require that the crime be included under the state’s 1990s-era “Three Strikes” law, allowing for life imprisonment after three felonies.
However, Grove noted Tuesday, the Public Safety Committee, led by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles), declined to advance the bill.
SB 14 Update—After passing the Senate with a unanimous, bipartisan vote, I had hoped Democrats on the Assembly Public Safety Committee, led by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, would agree to make sex trafficking of a minor a serious felony. I am profoundly disappointed that… pic.twitter.com/al3KoD1qw6
— Senator Shannon Grove (@ShannonGroveCA) July 11, 2023
Jones-Sawyer is also the author of a bill that would allow judges to use criminal sentencing to “rectify racial bias” in the criminal justice system.
In a statement, Grove said:
After passing the Senate with a unanimous, bipartisan vote, I had hoped Democrats on the Assembly Public Safety Committee, led by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, would agree to make sex trafficking of a minor a serious felony. I am profoundly disappointed that committee Democrats couldn’t bring themselves to support the bill, with their stubborn and misguided objection to any penalty increase regardless of how heinous the crime.
Human trafficking of children is a growing tragedy that disproportionately targets minority girls, and California is a hotbed because of our lenient penalties. The sad reality is that trafficked children on Figueroa Street and across California will continue to be raped and victimized until Assembly Democrats take action. Since the bill was granted reconsideration, I will continue to work with the committee and fight for Californians who are outraged by their decision.
SB 14 was voted down in the Assembly Public Safety Committee with 6 Democrats abstaining and 2 Republicans voting aye. The measure was also granted reconsideration.
The bill is eligible for reconsideration, which means it could still pass.
The scourge of human trafficking is dramatized in the surprise independent box office hit Sound of Freedom, which has drawn audiences across the nation, surpassing recent mainstream Hollywood studio releases.