Bartlett’s co-authored legislation to protect human trafficking victims dies in Senate

IBLC, News & Media

INDIANAPOLIS – Legislation co-authored by State Rep. John L. Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) to provide additional protections and support to minors who fall victim to human trafficking today died in the Senate. 

House Bill 1200 expanded the definition of “protected person” to include minors under the age of 14, meaning that they can be excused from participating in a trial and spared the serious emotional distress that can come with reliving the incidents in court. The legislation also specified that consent by the human trafficking victim is not a defense to a prosecution, which improves the prosecution's chances of convicting the trafficker.

Amendments offered by Republican senators would have allowed traffickers to more easily escape prosecution, leading to the bill’s demise. 

“This is incredibly disheartening for me and for our state,” Bartlett said. “We were finally taking a few small steps forward to combat human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable people, especially our children. This bill was about safeguarding their futures.”

In 2019, the National Human Trafficking Hotline found that 157 human trafficking cases were reported in Indiana, with 40 of those cases involving minors. Upon further study, 113 of those cases have been classified as “sex trafficking” cases.

“Modern-day slavery has touched all 92 counties in Indiana,” Bartlett added. “It stains our state and leaves our communities traumatized. The General Assembly has stayed silent on this issue for too long.

“While they remain silent, I remain committed to ending this horrific practice. I will continue standing up for our enslaved Hoosiers and I call on others to do the same.”

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