Three members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted “no” today on on S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, a human trafficking bill that will expand federal mandatory minimum sentences. Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, had this to say:
“There is no question in my mind that human trafficking demands our attention and law enforcement resources, but there’s also no question that expanding mandatory minimum sentences is the wrong way to do it. Every time members of Congress create a new mandatory minimum, they end up disproportionately punishing offenders they never intended to. Every single time. I want to thank Congressmen Bobby Scott, Thomas Massie, and John Conyers for having the courage to vote no on legislation that codifies a punishment we now know doesn’t work as advertised. These legislators obviously care about the victims of human trafficking, but they also care about sentences that fit the crime, and there are too many cases in which mandatory minimums simply don’t.”
The bill was also passed in the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 99-0. It now goes to President Barack Obama for a signature and enactment into law. The bill applies existing 10- and 15-year mandatory minimum sentences to those who advertise victims of trafficking — the same mandatory minimum sentences that currently apply to people who forcibly obtain or transport victims.
Congressman Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) press release on the vote is available here.
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