Leyva Bill Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking Passes Senate Committee

SB 597 Ensures ‘Safe at Home’ Services for Human Trafficking Victims

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, important legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that would make victims of human trafficking eligible for the state’s Safe at Home confidential address program passed from the Senate Judiciary Committee with unanimous bipartisan support.  ‘Safe at Home’ services are currently offered to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as reproductive health care doctors, nurses, volunteers and patients.

Sponsored by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, SB 597 would expand the protections provided by the Secretary of State’s ‘Safe at Home’ program to include victims of human trafficking, as well as members of the victim’s household.  ‘Safe at Home’ program participants receive a free post office box, mail forwarding service and a confidential address that can help ensure their ongoing safety.

“SB 597 will expand the Secretary of State’s ‘Safe at Home’ program to ensure that victims of human trafficking and their families also receive important privacy and safety protections that other victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault already receive,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino).  “I am grateful for Secretary Padilla’s continued efforts to help crime victims restart their new lives and am confident that SB 597 will further strengthen California’s commitment to protecting victims of crime, including human trafficking.  I thank the Senate Judiciary Committee for its loud and clear message today that victims of human trafficking need to receive these important protections from the state.”

According to a report by the California Department of Justice, California is one of the top four human trafficking destinations in the nation.  In 2016, The National Human Trafficking Hotline reports receiving 4,137 calls about human trafficking in California resulting in 1,323 cases—nearly twice as many cases than any other state in the nation. Over 1,000 of those cases dealt with sex trafficking.

This past February, Los Angeles County authorities announced the arrest of 474 people in a human trafficking sting.  During that operation, 28 sexually exploited children were rescued and services were offered to 20 adults who reported being victims of sex trafficking.

Secretary of State Padilla testified in today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, noting that “like survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, survivors of human trafficking would benefit tremendously from having access to the ‘Safe at Home’ program.”

SB 597 is supported by the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, California Catholic Conference, California District Attorneys Association, Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee, Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association, National Association of Social Workers – California Chapter, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

SB 597 will next proceed to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.