Md. General Assembly passes legislation to classify felony human trafficking as a violent crime
MARYLAND – While many may think this problem isn’t occurring here locally, it actually does happen in our own backyard. That’s why Governor Hogan has made it a priority to address this issue head on.
Through a bipartisan effort, Maryland’s General Assembly has approved legislation that would classify felony human trafficking as a violent crime.
Wicomico County’s Senior State’s Attorney, Kristen Schultz tells us, “The most one for the State’s Attorney’s Office is that they would have to serve half of their sentence before they are eligible for parole. Before they didn’t have to serve half, so you get paroled a 1/3 of the time or sort of whenever the parole commissioner entitled you.”
Beyond that, Schultz tells us that the bill also offers clarification. “It makes clear that mistake of age is not a defense to trafficking a minor, that wasn’t clear in the statute, it wasn’t that it wasn’t true but it wasn’t written to the statue,” Schultz states.
There are several other bills that also address human trafficking, but this specific bill passing both the House and the Senate, already brings some hope for victims and survivors.
“It really enforces the punishment aspect that we are taking this seriously and we aren’t accepting these sentences, they are no longer letting these defendants out with essential no time at all and able to re-offend into the community,” Schultz says.
Other bills have passed the House but not the Senate, as of yet. House Bill 782 would vacate convictions for those associated with trafficking and prostitute convictions.
Another would establish the crime of labor trafficking within the state of Maryland.