A new report says 41 states have failed to adopt strong penalties against human trafficking, and advocates say a patchwork of differing state laws makes it difficult for authorities to target the crime.
In Connecticut, for instance, the strict penalties for sex traffickers are among the toughest in the nation. Neighboring Massachusetts, meanwhile, had no statute specifically targeting sex trafficking until one was signed into law days ago.
The report released Thursday by the advocacy group Shared Hope International said more than a dozen states have passed new crackdowns, but four states — Maine, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming — have yet to impose any specific restrictions on the crime.
“Each state’s laws show omissions in protective provisions for child victims and (they) lack strong laws to prosecute the men who rent the bodies of other men’s children,” said Linda Smith, the group’s founder and president.
As many as 15,000 victims of human trafficking are brought into the U.S. each year, according to advocacy groups. They say there could be more than 100,000 victims in the country now.