Text message hotline for human trafficking victims now state law


It is now California law that human trafficking hotlines will have a text message option after Governor Jerry Brown signed a Senate Bill last week.

Through the legislation, written by Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), the phone number 233-733 (Be Free) will aid victims by being posted in plain sight in businesses, hotels and motels for them to text for help.

“We need young people and business leaders to step up and do their part to stop human trafficking in California,” Stern said in a statement in September.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline aided in 7,572 cases in 2016.

In a January human trafficking sweep in Los Angeles, 55 survivors of trafficking were identified and 474 people who solicited victims were arrested.

“Human trafficking is not just a global scourge, it’s a multibillion dollar criminal enterprise in our own backyards,” Stern said in the September statement.

When Senate Bill 225 was moving through the legislature, it passed on the Senate floor unanimously. When making its way through various committees and the Assembly and Senate floors, the bill never received a “no” vote and only received three total abstains.

Stern told The Signal there had been some pushback from hotels and motels when the bill was moving through the legislature.

Support for the bill included the California National Organization of Women, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the Ventura County Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the National Council of Jewish Women.

The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and National Council of Jewish Women worked to pass Senate Bill 1193 in the 2011-12 legislative session, which created the original human trafficking hotline requirement.

“This will create even stronger provisions for this important measure which allows victims across the state to better seek assistance,” Stephanie Richard, policy and legal services director for The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking said. “We are proud to see important improvements made.”

This bill is part of a legislative package with Assemblyman Miguel Santiago’s Assembly Bill 260, which requires the list of businesses who must post information about the hotline to include hotels and motels. Santiago’s bill was signed into law the same day as Stern’s.

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