Human trafficking isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to crime in Pennsylvania -- but two local politicians are aiming to increase awareness and toughen penalities on human traffickers with proposed legislation this session.
State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) and State Rep. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) are among the co-sponsors of SB 75, which aims to prevent trafficking and crack down on offenders. Under the bill, "subjecting an individual to involuntary servitude" would become a first-degree felony; johns who knowlingly have sex with a victim of human trafficking would face second-degree felonies. The bill would also make it a third-degree felony to destroy passports or immigration documents in order to keep a trafficking victim from escaping.
The bill was tabled in the Senate in February, but Greenleaf and Dinniman say they are working to schedule a vote soon.
Comprehensive data on human trafficking can be scanty, according to a report from a state Senate commission convened in 2010, because statistics and information-gathering on the issue often vary between cases and locales. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center's trafficking hotline logged more than 20,000 calls last year; 461 were from Pennsylvania. From those calls, the center identified 93 as potential human trafficking cases.