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[ATG] Zoeller, 48 other AGs call on Congress to give states better tools to combat sex trafficking
Start Date: 7/24/2013 All Day
End Date: 7/24/2013
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and 48 other attorneys general called on Congress today to help states fight prostitution and child sex trafficking by amending a federal law.

In a letter to key members of Congress, the attorneys general advocated that Congress amend the Communications Decency Act to provide criminal jurisdiction to state and local prosecutors.

“For Indiana and other states to be more effective in combating prostitution and child sex trafficking, the Communications Decency Act should be updated,” Zoeller said. “An amendment to this federal law could give local prosecutors the tools to hold accountable those who use technology to promote sexual exploitation.”

According to Zoeller, the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was drafted when the internet was in its infancy.  He said the purpose of the act was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, but courts have interpreted certain provisions of the act to provide immunity from State prosecution to online classified sites, such as Backpage.com. 

Zoeller said prostitution is a local crime and absent interstate travel, federal property, or the involvement of a minor, prostitution is not a federal crime. While the Communications Decency Act provides criminal authority to the federal government, the attorneys general believe that criminal jurisdiction needs to be extended to help combat these crimes.

Local prosecutors report that prostitution solicitations have largely moved online. Backpage.com, for example, generates an estimated $3 million to $4 million per month in revenue. While many websites include adult services sections, more than 250 children, in at least 35 states are known to have been trafficked on Backpage.com.

Prior to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis in 2012, Zoeller urged the Indiana General Assembly to pass critical amendments to strengthen Indiana’s human trafficking law to facilitate recovery of trafficked victims and prosecution of traffickers. In 2013, Zoeller recommended updating the law to include that all youths below age 18 used in prostitution and/or sexual performances/conduct are victims of illegal child trafficking, which closes a potential loophole and removes a potential legal defense for criminal traffickers.

Zoeller is the co-chair of the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH) task force. The task force has trained more than 5,800 persons including law enforcement, cab drivers, first responders, medical professionals and others so that they can identify human trafficking victims and know how to respond. Zoeller works with more than 60 organizations across the state to identify and recover and serve victims of human trafficking.

As part of the public awareness effort, the Attorney General’s office is collaborating with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) and the Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA) to educate Indiana truck drivers about sex trafficking. The IMTA is challenging their members to provide training on human trafficking for all their drivers, and TAT has provided thousands of training DVDs, wallet-sized trafficking indicator cards, and decals to be placed in truck cabs, which display the National Human Trafficking Hotline number. Zoeller’s office is also working with the Indiana Hotel and Lodging Association, the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Connect2Help 2-1-1, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana which is a division of The Villages, IARCCA – An Association of Children and Family Services, as well as training first responders and a number of state and federal agencies to identify and refer labor and sex trafficking victims.

Zoeller is the co-chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Standing Committee Against Human Trafficking and has been publicly supportive of many efforts to combat trafficking, including an initiative to reduce demand called “Don’t Buy the Lie.”

For more information about Zoeller’s human trafficking prevention efforts visit www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/humantrafficking/.  

Contact Information:
Name: Erin Reece
Phone: 317.232.0168
Email: Erin.Reece@atg.in.gov
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  • IN.gov Category:
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  • Agency Name
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