Crimes such as kidnapping that aid human trafficking would be punished more severely under a bill Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is expected to sign this week, the Associated Press reports. The bill would create a “human trafficking” specification that prosecutors could attach to related crimes to increase prison sentences. The measure marks an attempt to address the burgeoning sex trade in northwest Ohio. It does not create a new crime for sex trafficking, which was opposed by prosecutors who said there are laws on the books to punish crimes that constitute human trafficking.
State Sen. Teresa Fedor of Toledo, who sponsored the bill, said, “We were targeted in the nation as being the number one city recruiting underage girls two years in a row by the FBI.” John Murphy of the prosecutors’ association said human trafficking cases are difficult to prosecute because victims often refuse to testify – not because penalties are too lax. “If they can get away from their captors, they don’t want to get involved in the criminal justice system,” Murphy said. “They’re frightened about what might happen if they do.”