Daphne Phung is the driving force behind a proposition on the California ballot that dramatically increases prison sentences and fines for traffickers and makes other sweeping changes to the state’s laws on human trafficking. Polls show voters favor it by a larger margin than any other proposition, and it is endorsed by a long list of prosecutors, law enforcement, officials and politicians up and down the state. The campaign is backed by more than $2 million from Chris Kelly, Facebook’s former privacy chief — while opponents have yet to raise a cent, reports the Los Angeles Times.
If Proposition 35 passes, sex trafficking of a minor with force or fraud could be punished with up to a life term in prison. It’s a crime currently punishable with a maximum eight-year sentence. It would also increase the fine for trafficking crimes to up to $1.5 million from the current cap of $100,000 and expand the definition of human trafficking to include creation and distribution of child pornography. The proposition faces opposition from some veteran advocates and academics in the field of human trafficking who say it would probably have unintended consequences that could end up harming trafficking victims. They say the measure’s approach of simply toughening penalties would do little to combat a multifaceted problem. Critics expressed concern that the hefty criminal fines that would be imposed under the proposition would hurt victims’ chances of bring compensated in civil court — a process they said is a fundamental part of making a victim of human trafficking whole.