Legislature Approves Increased Penalties for Human Trafficking

by Brian Wilson
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The Iowa legislature has unanimously voted to increase prison sentences for human trafficking in Iowa. Representative Zach Dieken, a Republican from Granville, says the bill will dramatically change how human trafficking and sex trafficking is prosecuted in Iowa.

Republican Representative Mark Thompson of Clarion says Iowa has anemic sentences, forcing prosecution of major Iowa human trafficking cases into federal courts, which have a backlog.

Dieken says the rescue of a child during a western Iowa traffic stop in 2014 illustrates the gravity of the problem.

Those convicted of trafficking anyone under the age of 18 could be sentenced to life in an Iowa prison once the bill becomes law. The bill passed the House 96-to-zero on March 9th and the Senate approved it Tuesday on a 49-to-zero vote. Attorney General Brenna Bird has expressed support for the bill and legislators expect Governor Reynolds to sign it into law. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington was the first state to criminalize human trafficking in 2003. In 2006, the Iowa legislature unanimously voted to make human trafficking a class D felony — which carries a fine of up to 75-hundred dollars and a sentence of up to five years in prison.

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