‘It is paramount that state and local law enforcement have the power they need to take down human and sex traffickers’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined 49 of her colleagues in a bi-partisan letter urging Congress to amend the sex trafficking law and affirm that all law enforcement agencies retain their traditional authority to fight trafficking.
The attorneys general are asking that the Communications Decency Act (CDA) be amended to clarify that states, localities and territories retain authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of child sex trafficking wherever they operate, including online.
“It is paramount that state and local law enforcement have the power they need to take down human and sex traffickers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Congress has many large and important issues to tackle, but this is a small change that will have an enormous impact on the safety and wellbeing of children across the country.”
The addition of just a few words to the CDA proposed in the letter will help to ensure that citizens and children are effectively protected throughout the entire country, in all courts, according to Rutledge.
“Federal enforcement alone has proved insufficient to stem the growth in online promotion of child sex trafficking. Those on the front lines of the battle against the sexual exploitation of children – state and local law enforcement – must have clear authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of these and other horrible crimes,” the attorneys general write.
The intention of the CDA is to protect children from indecent material online. It was never was intended to place facilitators of child sex trafficking outside the reach of law enforcement. However, according to the attorneys general, the CDA is being used as a shield by those who profit from prostitution and crimes against children. In some cases, courts have misinterpreted certain provisions of the CDA as providing immunity from prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as Backpage.com, that promote and profit from human trafficking.
Led by the Attorney General of Florida and the District of Columbia, Rutledge is joined on the letter by her colleagues from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.