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By ARep | February 14th, 2013 - 5:12pm
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DANCER-MUÑOZ BILL ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING RECEIVES ASSEMBLY APPROVAL

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer and Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz that addresses the issue of human trafficking in New Jersey was approved by General Assembly today.

The bill, A-3352, revises and expands New Jersey’s human trafficking law by establishing a 15-person human trafficking commission that would be charged with reviewing existing victim assistance programs and promoting a coordinated response for victims of human trafficking; criminalizing additional activities related to human trafficking; and upgrading penalties on human trafficking or related crimes.

“The exploitation by those who enslave and force underage children into prostitution or other forms of slave labor is a heinous crime,” said Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth. “Our youth are especially vulnerable and deserve to be protected, especially from deranged individuals who seek to profit on their innocence.

“The effects of human trafficking are far-reaching, extending beyond the abuse which victims endure. This nefarious activity is linked to drug dealing, increased violence, gun-running and street crime. No one should suffer the mental anguish and physical abuse these children endure.”

“This bill is an important step in protecting the victims of human trafficking and sends a strong message to abusers that New Jersey will not tolerate such abhorrent actions,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Human bondage is a repulsive crime and offends the basic decency we expect in our society. Taking someone’s innocence and using them for any type of monetary or economic gain goes beyond offensive.

“Those who violate the fundamental right of freedom must pay a steep price,” stated Muñoz. “At the same time, we must recognize our responsibility to show compassion for these victims and do all we can to help them deal and overcome such cruel treatment.”

Today’s vote follows a July 2012 statewide directive issued by New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa for law enforcement to increase investigations and prosecutions of sex- and labor-related human trafficking in New Jersey.

Chiesa said the state offers a prime location for domestic and international human trafficking because of its central location between the New York metropolitan area and the tri-state area of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.

According to statistics kept by New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice, there were 179 reported human trafficking victims from Sept. 16, 2005 to March 1, 2012, including 93 victims of labor trafficking, 60 of sex trafficking, and 26 of both labor and sex trafficking.

Other sponsors of the legislation include: Assembly Republican Alison McHose and Democrats Valerie Huttle Vainieri, Peter Barnes, Cleopatra Tucker, Angel Fuentes, Linda Stender and Shavonda Sumter.

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