A new bill in the Nevada legislature would require sex traffickers who attempt to lure juveniles (or law enforcement posing as children) to serve jail time, closing a legal loophole that allows them to escape it.
Senate Bill 89 will force perpetrators to serve jail time once they are caught by law enforcement agencies, with more severe penalties the younger the child. The legislation specifically adds a penalty for perpetrators who speak with law enforcement officers that pose as underage children, as the law currently on the books does not, according to FOX 5 Las Vegas.
According to the bill, a sex trafficker suspected of trying to lure children over the internet faces a Class A felony, an automatic life sentence, and a minimum parole time of five to fifteen years.
The minimum sentence the perpetrator faces is conditional on the age of the desired sex trafficking victim, or the age of the child in which the law enforcement officer is posing.
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"The younger the person is, or they believe that the individual to be -- the harsher the penalties," said State Senator Heidi Seevers Gansert, a Republican.
She added: "It’s well known that youth are lured into trafficking at a very early age, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that there are significant penalties."
The new legislation would also double the window for applications for aid from the Victims of Crime Fund from 24 months to 48 months.
"Those funds can be used for housing, for education, for child care, for all sorts of different things, which will help them get back on their feet. And in the end, that’s what we want. We want to make sure that they have extra time, because of the healing process," Seevers Gansert said.
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Nevada has one of the highest rates of sex trafficking in the nation and various agencies across the state have amplified resources available for victims throughout the month of January, which is Human Trafficking Awareness month.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline received 4,408 calls from someone in the state of Nevada that needs help since 2007, according to FOX Las Vegas.
A third of victims are exploited through hotels, the hotline told the outlet.
The bill has bipartisan support.