Polaris_mapPolaris Project 2014 State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws again places Washington State in Tier One, meaning the state has laws fulfilling all 10 categories that address sex and labor trafficking, prosecution and victim assistance. 

However, much work still needs to be done.  Visit the 2016 Legislative Session page to review bills introduced to address policy gaps in the State, and review this Department of Commerce report on criminal penalty fine assessment and collection.  How does your county measure up?  

Key Federal Legislation:

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, also known as the Buyer Beware program, addresses the domestic trafficking on US citizens.  The new law clarifies that those who buy sex can be prosecuted and convicted as sex trafficking offenders, rather than petty criminals. Buyers will be subject to a $5,000 fine—and those fines will help pay for increased services for victims and survivors. The legislation also creates a new US Advisory Council on Human Trafficking—with at least eight trafficking survivors—to make recommendations to the federal government on anti-trafficking strategies.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Re-Authorization Act of 2013, was passed as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act.  It establishes and strengthens programs to ensure that U.S. citizens do not purchase products made by victims of human trafficking, and to prevent child marriage. It also puts into place emergency response provisions within the U.S. State Department to respond quickly to disaster areas and crises where people are particularly susceptible to being trafficked. The re-authorization also strengthens collaboration with state and local law enforcement to ease charging and prosecuting traffickers.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, is the cornerstone of Federal human trafficking legislation, and established several methods of prosecuting traffickers, preventing human trafficking, and protecting victims and survivors of trafficking. The act establishes human trafficking and related offenses as federal crimes, and attaches severe penalties to them. It also mandates restitution be paid to victims of human trafficking. It further works to prevent trafficking by establishing the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which is required to publish a Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report each year. The TIP report describes and ranks the efforts of countries to combat human trafficking. The act also established the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, which assists in the implementation of the TVPA. The TVPA protects victims and survivors of human trafficking by establishing the T visa, which allows victims of human trafficking, and their families to become temporary U.S. residents and eligible to become permanent residents after three years.