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Prop. 35: Human trafficking penalties would rise; some believe measure could backfire

SANTA ANA, California|Sex-Trafficking|Add Comment
By: Amy Taxin, Associated Press
Maxine Doogan, president of Exotic Service Providers

California voters will consider toughening the penalties on human trafficking in a November ballot initiative funded almost entirely by a former Facebook official and opposed — somewhat surprisingly — by some advocates who are trying to stop the exploitation.

If it's approved by voters, Proposition 35 would more than double sentences for human traffickers and impose a life sentence for the sex-trafficking of children. It also would require sex offenders to provide email addresses and other Internet identifiers to law enforcement.

Former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly has contributed nearly 90 percent of the $2.2 million raised in favor of the initiative.

The initiative also broadens the definition of human trafficking and raises the penalties for offenders.

It is endorsed by the state Democratic and Republican parties, a host of law enforcement agencies and police unions, anti-trafficking groups and numerous newspaper editorial boards. But the initiative also faces opposition — perhaps unusually so — from some of the advocates who work with victims of human trafficking in the state.

John Vanek, a retired police lieutenant from the San Jose Police Human Trafficking Task Force, said Proposition 35 might be well-intentioned but could discourage prosecutors from charging cases under the state's human trafficking laws.

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