House Passes Wagner Legislation To Help Trafficking Victims
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 507, the Put Trafficking Victims First Act, legislation she introduced with Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37). The legislation encourages state and federal agencies, law enforcement, and prosecutors across the country to implement victim-centered approaches to investigating and preventing human trafficking.
“Today we stand with trafficking victims who are too often overlooked and underserved. The trauma of trafficking can be long-lasting, and victims need every ounce of support we can give them. It has been estimated that fewer than 15% of trafficking victims get restitution in federal sex trafficking cases. This is unacceptable, and the Put Trafficking Victims First Act directs the Attorney General to work on increasing restitution and adopt victim-friendly procedures in criminal cases. This legislation will help promote trauma-informed care that helps victims recover and cooperate with law enforcement so we can put pimps and buyers behind bars. We also encourage law enforcement to make every attempt to determine whether an individual’s participation in trafficking is free from force, fraud, or coercion before arresting or charging them. Lack of help for victims in the justice system can tragically lead to re-victimization, or even result in victims being criminalized for offenses they were forced to commit. Most importantly, the bill calls on states to expand victim services including better screening of children in the welfare system, job counseling, and housing.”
Congresswoman Wagner wrote and introduced the Put Trafficking Victims First Act in the 115th Congress. The bill first passed the House unanimously in May of 2017.