Taylor Votes: HB 770 – Increased Penalties for Human Trafficking

Tom’s vote: YES

HB 770 expands the victim class for human trafficking to include those with developmental disabilities and ensures that offenses perpetrated against victims with developmental disabilities will be sentenced consistent with offenses against minors – punishable by a felony and 25 to 50 years or life in prison and a fine not exceeding $100,000. Currently, individuals with developmental disabilities are being targeted by traffickers because traffickers believe these particular victims will be unable to testify against them.

Further, this bill specifically states that the involvement of an undercover operative or law enforcement officer in a trafficking investigation is not a defense to prosecution thereby allowing law enforcement to conduct undercover investigations to build cases against traffickers.

This bill adds the terms “Developmental disability” and “controlled substance” into the sexual servitude definitions. The definition of “sexual servitude” is expanded to include explicit conduct performed by an individual who is younger than 18 years of age or who has a developmental disability and was induced or obtained by deception or coercion – including the use of controlled substances. HB 770’s language seeks to specify the definition of sexual servitude to ensure proper application.

While many in Georgia do not see this, we have a huge human trafficking problem in Georgia that amounts to virtual enslavement, particularly of minors.  This bill, which I supported in the strongest possible way, puts real teeth and tools in the hands of police and prosecutors.  If you think this does not happen in your community, look at the recent arrests by Dunwoody Police and other authorities of a very large prostitution ring being run out of a Dunwoody hotel.