The Michigan House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation from state Rep. Bronna Kahle, which expands “safe harbor” protections to victims of human trafficking.
House Bill 4219 will enact a recommendation of the Human Trafficking Commission by updating the deferred sentencing laws regarding human trafficking to protect more victims from criminal prosecution.
“Victims of human trafficking have suffered enough by being forced into this illegal activity,” said Kahle, of Clinton. “We need to ensure that all victims of these crimes are not treated like criminals and give them the opportunity to put the criminal behavior in their past. This legislation will continue to allow judges to make the final, legal determination as whether those forced into human trafficking deserve punishment.”
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette celebrated the bill’s passage, noting the importance of helping victims.
“Victims of human trafficking deserve a fresh start after the terrifying ordeal they have gone through,” Schuette said. “Being forced into prostitution through fraud or coercion is traumatic, and piecing together a life afterward can be complicated by past criminal charges. My hope is that this legislation becomes law and helps a victim set their record straight, and allows them to secure a job or continue their education.”
The 2016 Michigan Human Trafficking Commission report was distributed to elected officials on Wednesday, supplying recommendations that led to Kahle’s legislation. The next meeting of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission is scheduled for May 3 in Lansing.
Kahle also had support from her home district on the legislation as Adrian resident Kelly Castleberry, who serves on the Southern Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, testified before the committee in early March.
This legislation is Kahle’s first to be approved by the full House chamber, passing by a unanimous 108-0 vote and adding multiple co-sponsors.
House Bill 4219 advances to the state Senate for consideration.