Voters will understandably want to support a measure that appears to work toward reducing human trafficking.
Still, this board endorses a “no” vote on Proposition 35 because in the end, it is too broad and may have unintended consequences.
The measure increases prison sentences for convicted human traffickers and expands the definition of what constitutes human trafficking.
But simply increasing the consequences seems unlikely to have an effect on a crime that already results in harsh punishment, and expanding the definition may have a harmful impact on innocent people.
For example, if someone convicted under this proposition has used illegal money to pay for his or her children’s education, the children may be guilty under the proposition as having “benefited” from human or sex trafficking.
The potential unintended consequences of the proposition make it a poorly worded and dangerous proposal.
In addition, the proposal may take up some state resources ““ estimated at several million dollars annually ““ to train law enforcement officers and help prosecute human trafficking suspects.
If Proposition 35 passes, these funds would be misdirected because they would not actually address the source of the problem.
Instead of directly dealing with the source of trafficking, and helping people avoid human or sex trafficking, the measure attempts to simply increase the consequences for these actions.
Human trafficking may be a growing problem in California, with some reports suggesting that there has been a rise of gang-related sex trafficking cases.
This measure draws attention to an important problem ““ that of enslaving adults and children and forcing them to work against their will, sometimes in sexual contexts.
However, efforts may be better applied to keeping children better protected from these types of situations or making it easier and safer for victims of human or sex trafficking to come forward and give evidence.
The currently suggested approach seems to be inefficient, as the state already has harsh penalties in place for human trafficking, yet the problem still persists.