Since the inception of TVPA, many states have enacted their own laws pertaining to human trafficking in order to allow for provisions where the federal law is insufficient. State laws serve as an additional tool for prosecuting human traffickers, allowing cases to be prosecuted that are not being pursued at the federal level. Federal authorities do not have the resources to investigate and prosecute every case; Therefore, they often choose to focus their efforts on larger-scale cases. Without a state law, there is little that can be done if federal authorities are unable to pursue the case(Office of Kentucky Legal Services Programs, n.d.). State legislation may also include stipulations for funds and resources to support victim services, law enforcement training, public awareness campaigns, and other important initiatives.
Kentucky’s commitment to combating human trafficking within the Commonwealth is evidenced by the recent legislative mandate addressing the issue. In 2006, Senator David Boswell, D-Owensboro, introduced Kentucky’s first human trafficking bill. Senator Boswell was inspired to pursue the legislation at the urging of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph based upon their experiences as missionaries in Central and South America(Covington, 2007). The bill passed the Senate but later died after the House attached an unrelated amendment dealing with identity theft(Associated Press, 2007). Senator Boswell revised and reintroduced the legislation, Senate Bill 43, in 2007. Many groups backed the bill, including the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, the Kentucky Office of Legal Services, and the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association.
On June 26th, 2007, Kentucky became the 28th state to approve a ban on human trafficking. Under Senate Bill 43, participation in human trafficking is classified as a felony offense. Both the Senate and the House voted unanimously in favor of the Bill’s passage. The Bill makes it a felony to force anyone into labor, domestic work, or the sex trade. As a Class C felony, human trafficking is punishable by up to 10 years in prison with an even more severe penalty if the victim is seriously injured or under the age of 18. Not only does the legislation provide severe criminal penalties for human trafficking, it guarantees protections for victims of human trafficking such as freedom from incarceration, right to victims counseling, and the right to an interpreter. www.fbi.gov/humantrafficking.