Idaho legislature pushes for changes to human trafficking laws

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Since the start of the 2018 legislative session, there has been a push to change Idaho’s human trafficking laws. On Jan. 19, two bills were introduced into the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee. Multiple representatives sponsored the bills, but the main sponsor was Assistant House Majority Leader, Brent Crane, R-Nampa.

House Bill 376 would change the language of the current law. Currently, the law indicates trafficking of multiple prostitutes, which has allowed the defense to make an argument that since they only trafficked one person, they did not break this specific law. However, this change would make trafficking only a single person a crime. Additionally, House Bill 377 would change the language to “the person,” as well as make prostitution a felony on the first offense. Currently, it is not a felony until a third offense.

Crane gained interest in this issue after having a meeting in December with an anti-trafficking organization called INsideOut. This meeting made him realize how much human trafficking affected Idaho and the need to make serious legislative changes. He did not realize the extent of the problem in Idaho, but after learning this information, he wanted to make it clear human trafficking is not welcome in Idaho. He said there were 60 ads placed online related to available prostitutes on Jan. 2.  

“Go to a high school and ask the girls what they want to be when they grow up,” Crane said. “They’ll say various careers, but none of them will say they want to go into human trafficking.”

He went on to say this is only the beginning of his, and others’, legislative plans regarding this issue. For instance, these two bills address only the word “prostitution.” Meanwhile, there are other laws in Idaho specifically related to “human trafficking.” He hopes to achieve possibly six other bills to help curb human trafficking. However, Crane said this process could take another year or more.

Crane also said he wanted the buyers and sellers to be prosecuted, not the victims who were being sold. He also wanted rehabilitation services available for those rescued from human trafficking. He understood this would be a large undertaking, which would require funding and coordination with the community.

Additionally, Detective Mike Miraglia with the Boise Police Department (BPD) said he is aware of the proposed legislation and is “engaged” with the representatives working on the bill. BPD has taken on an advisory role, but it is ultimately leaving the planning and language up to the Legislature. Miraglia said BPD is happy about the proposed wording change in wording from “prostitutes” to “prostitute” because they had been “wanting it for years.”

Furthermore, Miraglia listed a few signs someone may demonstrate if they are a victim of trafficking:

  • Individuals missing school for traveling
  • Dramatic changes in behavior/demeanor
  • Isolation
  • Physical/emotional abuse
  • Much older boyfriends who appear to be manipulating

According to Miraglia, there are many other signs, which is why it is important to pay attention to peers and friends.

At Boise State, Alicia Estey, associate vice president of Campus Operations and Interim Coordinator of Title IX Compliance, said the Office of Institutional Compliance and Ethics has never received a report of human trafficking, but if it were to receive one, then the Office would make a coordinated response with Public Safety and law enforcement.

Human trafficking is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights,” Estey said.

Estey also mentioned Boise State offers services from the Gender Equity Center, Title IX and University Health Services for students, as well as other partnerships with the community.

A few local resources include the Faces of Hope Victim Center and the Women’s and Children’s Alliance. For students who feel at risk, reach out to the Campus Police, Boise Police Department, other local police departments or call 911 in case of an emergency.

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