Leyva Bill Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking Signed by Governor

SB 597 Earned Strong Bipartisan Support in Both Senate and Assembly

Monday, October 9, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown signed an important bill authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) and sponsored by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla that will protect victims of human trafficking in California.

Taking effect on January 1, 2018, Senate Bill 597 will expand the Secretary of State’s successful 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.  ‘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.

“SB 597 is a critical step towards protecting victims of human trafficking and their families here in California,” Senator Leyva said.  “I thank Governor Brown for signing this common sense measure that offers human trafficking victims a better opportunity to restart their lives and not constantly look over their shoulder.  All Californians deserve to live their lives free from fear. I thank Secretary of State Alex Padilla for his partnership on this bill and my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle for standing strong to protect victims of human trafficking and their loved ones.”

Human trafficking is a major issue in California today.  In February 2017, 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.  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.

"California's Safe at Home program will now help survivors of human trafficking, just as it helps thousands of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking," said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. "With the signing of SB 597, survivors of human trafficking can receive mail, open a bank account, register to vote, and fill out government documents confidentially and free from fear.”

During its legislative journey, SB 597 was supported by the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, California Association of Clerks and Election Officials Elections Legislative Committee, California Catholic Conference, California District Attorneys Association, City of Los Angeles, 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 Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.