California Democrat reverses position on harsher penalties for child traffickers: ‘Bad decision’

A Democrat member of the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee admitted to making a “bad decision” on a bill that would have increased penalties for human trafficking. “On Tuesday, I made a bad decision. Voting against legislation targeting really bad people who traffic children was wrong. I regret doing that and I am going to help get this important legislation passed into law,” Assembly member Liz Ortega wrote in a tweet. The comments from Ortega, who represents District 20, came two days after the Golden State’s lower chamber committee considered Senate Bill 14, which would make the human trafficking of children a “serious felony.” Serious felony charges under California law currently include murder, rape and any other crime that may incur the death penalty or life sentence in state prison. CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE BLOCKS BILL THAT COULD HAVE SENT HUMAN TRAFFICKERS OF KIDS TO PRISON FOR LIFE However, instead of raising the felony charges for child traffickers, Democrats on the California Assembly Public Safety Committee blocked the measure on Tuesday. Prior to her admission about the action she took earlier this week, Ortega had suggested that lifelong sentences for those who traffic children would not put an end to the child human trafficking problem that has plaqued the country. “I’m struggling with how do we support you with mental health access, with housing, with education, with good jobs, because it’s part of a holistic approach,” she said, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “Sending someone to prison for the rest of their lives is not going to fix the harm moving forward. And that’s the part I’m struggling with. It’s a complex issue.” FLORIDA AG CALLS ON MARK ZUCKERBERG TO STOP CHILD TRAFFICKERS EXPLOITING KIDS ONLINE: ‘PUBLIC SAFETY THREAT’ According to local media, no Democrats on the committee voted for the bill. Both Republican assemblymen on the committee – Tom Lackey and GOP Vice Chair Juan Alanis – voted to advance the bill. S.B. 14 was given reconsideration, meaning it could be taken up again by the California Assembly next year. S.B. 14 cleared the California Senate unanimously with bipartisan support in May. “You know you’re on the wrong side of an issue when you deliver a win for human traffickers. Democrats on the Public Safety Committee proved they have no intention of protecting the lives of Californians, let alone protecting innocent children from the horrors of human trafficking,” California GOP Chair Jessica Millan Patterson said of the action taken by the committee on Tuesday. Human trafficking is an issue that has long been taking place within and around the country, and certain states are looking to increase penalties and hold those who engage in the practice more accountable. In Florida, Attorney General Ashley Moody is demanding that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg explain the high volume of human trafficking across Meta platforms after an eerie report revealed that pedophiles are using the metaverse to sexually exploit children. Moody sent a letter to Zuckerberg on Monday, inviting the CEO to speak with Florida’s Statewide Council on Human Trafficking on what preventative measures, if any, the tech giant is taking to end human trafficking on its sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook was reportedly the top platform used for the recruitment of human trafficking victims from 2019 to 2022, according to the 2022 Federal Human Trafficking report that also found 53% of traffickers use the internet to solicit buyers of commercial sex. Fox News’ Houston Keene and Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.
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