Legislators, law enforcement officers and media gathered at a signing ceremony, held in the foyer of Anchorage Police Department headquarters, where Parnell signed House Bill 359. The bill, introduced by the governor, changes language describing the offense of “promoting prostitution” to “sex trafficking,” and classifies first-degree sex trafficking or human trafficking as a serious felony.
“Human trafficking is not a victimless crime,” Parnell said in a statement Tuesday. “Criminals prey on young women, vulnerable men, and underage girls and boys. Runaways are particularly at risk in our state. Anyone who believes this is a victimless crime just hasn’t seen the terrible devastation it causes. These crimes violate every standard of human decency.”
In addition, HB359 allows state seizure of property used by defendants to commit prostitution in cases involving minor victims. It also permits the use of simultaneous two-way video conferencing in court when witnesses can’t testify in person -- a provision lawmakers said might be unconstitutional or benefit defendants during this year’s special session of the Legislature.
Other bills signed by Parnell Tuesday include Senate Bill 86, which increases penalties for financial exploitation and expedites emergency protective orders for senior citizens, in cases where they may be getting swindled but are unable to protect their own interests.
Senate Bill 210 increases the age threshold for which offenders can be charged with third-degree assault for causing physical harm to a child, or in cases where an adult repeatedly injures a child. It also creates a task force, headed by the state’s attorney general, on crimes of sex and human trafficking.
Senate Bill 135 allows prosecutors and judges to consider victims’ rights to speedy resolution of cases when deciding whether to grant continuances in court cases. It also requires that crime victims be notified of any requests or motions that could delay prosecution of their cases.
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