New California Law SB1322: Commercial Sex Acts and Children
In January, SB 1322 went into effect. This controversial bill changed the way minors involved in trafficking are treated under the law. Selling or buying a minor for sex is still illegal, but the children being sold are no longer committing a crime.
There was a lot of discussion about this bill, and many mixed reviews of its potential effects. Supporters want to see trafficked minors treated as victims and not further stigmatized as criminals or prostitutes when they are actually the victims of exploitation. SB1322 channels victimized children through the welfare/dependency system instead of the criminal justice system for services.
Detractors are concerned that the welfare system is already overburdened and unable to handle this population. They worry that law enforcement won’t have the leverage they need to prosecute pimps without having the victims in custody.
This legislation and the issues involved are complex enough that a national leader on human trafficking issues, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley from Alameda County, originally opposed and later supported SB1322.
In an effort to help those of you who want to read more about this recent change in law, here are some more articles with different perspectives.