California lawmakers are back with a bill targeting child sex trafficking “buyers.”

(Associated Press)

California lawmakers are back with a bill targeting child sex trafficking “buyers.”

California Politics

Anabel Sosa

February 29, 2024

Following her notable success in enacting harsher criminal penalties for child sex traffickers, Republican Senator Shannon Grove has introduced legislation to extend prison sentences for those who purchase or participate in child prostitution.

After a dramatic change of heart among Assembly Democrats last year, Grove won bipartisan support in the Democratic-dominated House for a bill that would reclassify child sex trafficking from a misdemeanor to a serious misdemeanor.

“This year, I’ve heard prosecutors from across the state say that this law has allowed them to prosecute these traffickers,” Grove said, referring to her “historic” bill that went into effect Jan. 1.

But she said this was just one piece of the puzzle.

This week, the Bakersfield Republican joined Sens. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) and Anna Caballero

(D-Merced) (D-Salinas)

to introduce Senate Bill 1414, which focuses on child prostitution solicitation.

“It takes two criminals to commit a crime of sex trafficking,” she said. “The seller, as we addressed last year, and this year the buyer.”

The current law doesn’t go far enough, Grove

argued said, said and added

adults who purchase a child for sex can only be charged with a misdemeanor. Often, a person convicted of purchasing child sex receives a maximum sentence of six months in prison, said Santa Barbara County Deputy Dist. Atty. Tyson McCoy.

“I don’t think people understand how rampantly child buying is happening in the state of California,” McCoy told reporters, adding that most people convicted will serve less than 10 years in prison.

full time full time

because they are entitled to credits that reduce their punishment.

Matt SotoRosen,

the A

deputy public defender at the San Francisco Public Defenders Office, said his office will likely oppose this bill

it she

done last year.

“In general, my office is against policies that date back to the 1990s and against the old carceral policies,” he told the Times.

as if

Increasing penalties will have a deterrent effect.

Grove said she’s hopeful this time she can stem the unexpected rifts her bill created last year.

In a series of events last July, Grove’s bill to address child sex trafficking passed the Senate but stalled in the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. Democrats disagreed on whether the bill would have unintended consequences by also criminalizing victims. Criminal justice advocates have also been cautious about whether this bill would contribute to mass incarceration.

The Democrats’ opposition sparked a barrage of criticism and baseless accusations on social media, and one lawmaker even said she received death threats. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Assembly Majority Leader Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) also publicly urged the Public Safety Committee to consider another vote. The committee eventually reconvened and approved it on the second go-around.


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