North Carolina lawmakers are increasing efforts to punish those guilty of human trafficking.
Reps. Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover and Brunswick, and Ted Davis Jr., R-New Hanover, were among primary sponsors of House Bill 221, which would require those convicted of human trafficking to register under the Sex Offender and Public Protection Registration Program if the victim was a minor or the offense was committed with the intent that the person be held in sexual servitude.
“This bi-partisan legislation should serve as notice that human trafficking is a serious crime, and that all perpetrators will be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Hamilton said in a March 5 news release.
Human trafficking is a felony under North Carolina law and is defined as knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining another person for involuntary or sexual servitude.
Current law allows the courts discretion to determine if a human trafficker must register as a sex offender.
If House Bill 221 becomes law convicted human traffickers must register as sex offenders for offenses committed on or after Dec. 1.
Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-Hew Hanover, is among primary sponsors of a similar bill that passed the Senate March 4.
Both bills were referred to the House Judiciary Committee’s Judiciary Subcommittee B.
Lawmakers also were drafting Safe Harbor legislation that could include creating a “john school” to help men caught soliciting people for prostitution understand human trafficking , offering psychological support to those being prostituted and removing parental rights from traffickers who have children with women being prostituted.