– Rep. John Lawrence (R-West Grove) attended a news conference in the Capitol earlier this week in observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and announced the unanimous passage of several bills to draw attention to the issue and provide law enforcement with better tools and enforcement capabilities.
“Pennsylvania ranks tenth in the country in human trafficking, and unfortunately Southern Chester County is not immune to the effects of this reality,” said Lawrence. “US Route 1, Route 41, and Route 30 are known corridors for the movement of vulnerable individuals, especially women and children. Our close proximity to multiple major metropolitan areas only compounds the problem.”
Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar worldwide industry that exploits vulnerable and often marginalized individuals into forced servitude involving sex or drugs.
Rep. Lawrence joined lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to pass legislation increasing the penalty for patronizing a human trafficking victim and the trafficking of infants to a first-degree felony. The legislation also expands the list of actionable offenses allowing for expert testimony on the dynamics of sexual violence.
Separately, additional legislation passed to strengthen penalties for prohibited activities that, if committed, would constitute the crime of unlawful contact with a minor.
Human traffickers tend to exploit their victims’ vulnerabilities and make them dependent. Risk factors include runaway or homeless youth, recent migration or relocation, substance use, and mental health issues. To report suspected human trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).
Representative John Lawrence
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Donna Pinkham
Rep. John Lawrence speaks with Commonwealth Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm after a news conference earlier this week regarding the passage of legislation to mitigate the impact of human trafficking in Pennsylvania. In her role as Victim Advocate, Storm is responsible for representing the rights and interests of crime victims before the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole and the Department of Corrections.