Sex Trafficking

'John School,' Homeland-Security Training for Strippers, and Other State Sex-Trafficking Laws Coming This Month

New laws (ostensibly) related to human trafficking take effect in Florida, Illinois, New York, and North Dakota this month.

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Gilbert Mercier/Flickr

For 2016, several states have resolved to get tougher on forced prostitution. To this end, they're embarking on costly "awareness" campaigns, enacting new regulations on adult businesses, and launching re-education programs for people who solicit sex. In other words, they're enacting the kind of measures that don't do squat for potential victims but do impose new burdens on business owners, new threats for commercial-sex seekers, and new financial obligations on taxpayers. Happy New Year! Here are four states with sex-trafficking measures that take effect this January: 

North Dakota

North Dakota's new law forces people caught soliciting prostitution to enroll in "John School," where they'll be educated about how they are complicit in human trafficking. Anyone arrested for solicitation more than once in a 10-year period faces up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Curriculum for the new "sex offender education program"—as Florida's Public News Service describes it— was designed by the state's Force to End Human Sexual Exploitation (FUSE). Unsurprisingly, FUSE believes all prostitution must be eradicated. "There isn't a way to participate in this kind of behavior that doesn't promote really horrible things happening to other people," the group's leader, Christina Sambor, said. 

Florida

?Florida now requires massage parlors, airports, and adult-oriented businesses such as strip clubs and sex-toy shops to prominently display a human-trafficking hotline number or face a civil penalty. The requirement comes following a coordinated push from the Polaris Project, a nongovernmental organization that gets federal funding to run said hotline. The more states Polaris can convince to make posting the phone number mandatory, the more money it can collect from the federal government for its operation. (Data on the effectiveness of this publicly-funded hotline are not publicly available.) 

"Taping up a sign is not a burden," one Tampa strip club owner told ABC Tampa Bay—he put one up in the dressing room months ago. But that's not all the law requires. Employees of these businesses must also receive training from the Department of Homeland Security on how to spot potential sex traffickers or victims of sex trafficking. 

New York

In New York state, labor trafficking, sex trafficking, prostitution, patronizing a person for prostitution, and having sex with a minor are all well-established crimes. The state's latest human-trafficking measure simply creates new "aggravated" categories of these crimes, which allows law enforcement to tack on extra charges and jail time under certain conditions, such as when the act takes place on or adjacent to a school or athletic grounds.

The new law also expands the definition of felony "advancing, compelling, or profiting from prostitution" to include any situation involving the prostitution of a 16- or 17-year-old, regardless of whether the teen is forced or coerced (previously, force or coercion must have been involved if the victim was above the age of 15). Additionally, it establishes that being a victim of sex trafficking is an affirmative defense to prostitution charges. 

Illinois

Like Florida, Illinois now requires certain types of establishments to post a notice featuring the national human-trafficking hotline number. State laws requiring such postings are one of the key goals of the Polaris Project, which also receives ample federal funding to run the hotline.

In Illinois, airports, bars, strip clubs, adult stores, bus stops, train stations, urgent care centers, truck stops, hospital emergency rooms, job-recruitment centers, and farm labor contractors must start posting the hotline number in "a conspicuous place." Failure to properly post the notice will result in a fine of $500 or, after a first offense, a fine of $1,000. 

Another new Illinois law ramps up the criminal penalties for patronizing or promoting juvenile prostitution if the minor is in the state foster-care system or otherwise a ward of the state. 

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  1. Homeland-Security Training for Strippers

    Nice album name.

  2. In Illinois, airports, bars, strip clubs, adult stores, bus stops, train stations, urgent care centers, truck stops, hospital emergency rooms, job-recruitment centers, and farm labor contractors must start posting the hotline number in “a conspicuous place.” Failure to properly post the notice will result in a fine of $500 or, after a first offense, a fine of $1,000.

    I would love to know if these hotlines ever resulted in breaking up a sex trafficking ring. I mean, I am sure the answer is “no, they have not….yet,” but it would still be nice to have that question answered.

    1. I have it on good authority that those that traffic humans give their “cargo” cellphone that way they can update their facebook status, check sports scores, and call human trafficking hotlines

    2. I have tried to have this question answered. Polaris routinely refuses to respond. The best they offer is the number of calls received and some broad categories they fall into, like ‘trafficking related’ or ‘not trafficking related,’ and where the calls came from broadly. They’re also continually crowing how the number of calls has increased drastically?which makes sense considering the number keeps being required by law to be posted more places!?but never say that the number of calls related to trafficking has increased. The breakdown on who called is interesting — I think it was something like a third of the calls came from government offices, social service agencies, and police departments.

      1. I think it was something like a third of the calls came from government offices, social service agencies, and police departments.

        It’s time to enact common sense human trafficking legislation:

        Tattoo the hotline on all Congresscritters and government employees foreheads! It’s for the Children!!

    3. I saw one of these notices in the bathroom of a maternity ward last year already. Directly under it was a similar notice outlining how to report domestic abuse. After spending just a few minutes in the bathroom, I began to wonder whether I had actually willfully impregnated my wife, or whether I was just a pawn in some evil scheme of hers.

  3. “John School”

    Sample Question: Is this hooker plump enough?

    Sample Answer: Trick question. They are always too skinny. There is no such thing as “too plump.”

    1. +1 fucking half wit

  4. “North Dakota’s new law forces people caught soliciting prostitution to enroll in “John School,” where they’ll be educated about how they are complicit in human trafficking.”

    So they will be lied to in other words. The people who are complicit in human trafficking are the people who support laws against prostitution that force the business into the shadows.

    1. But but but GOOD INTENTIONS!!!

      1. Oh, sorry, I forgot. They make everything all better.

    2. I hope this is an open book test.

      1. I hope it is a practical. That way they have more skin in the game.

    3. I talked to a guy who had to go to one of these in Seattle. This is someone who didn’t frequently but did regularly see sex workers, according to him. And he was genuinely convinced after the john school of a whole bunch of government talking points about prostitution and all these women were drug addicts and sexually abused and forced in as teens and such…. He was saying it all to me proudly, too, b/c I think a friend had told him I write about sex-worker rights, and he very clearly felt that he now had a more enlightened view of such things since the gov’t had taught him that all sex workers were victims.

      1. Government propaganda can be powerful – Edward Bernays has had a huge impact on such government programs.

      2. I wonder if these john schools will turn out like prison, where johns teach each other the best ways to find hookers without getting caught.

        Especially if they become more widespread …. when it’s only a few johns, they may think themselves weird outcasts, and actually believe the government propaganda, for a while … but if the john schools become more common, and start getting repeat offenders, it won’t have the same pariah effect.

        An interesting social experiment, except, of course, for the participants.

      3. …and he also realized that he loved Big Brother.

    4. The students will network.

  5. “John School”

    Extra points added to papers with unintentionally golden typos

    1. Extras points also added for loving fatties.

  6. Force to End Human Sexual Exploitation (FUSE)

    That’s…not how acronyms work.

    1. Bill Watterson is not happy

    2. It’s a forced acronym, Heh, I mean, Hugh.

    3. Force to end hUman Sexual Exploitation

      Would you prefer: Force to End The Intentional Sexploitation of Humans?

      1. Ah, British. That explains a lot.

      2. Foundation Against Unlawful Sexual Trade

  7. “Another new Illinois law ramps up the criminal penalties for patronizing or promoting juvenile prostitution if the minor is in the state foster-care system or otherwise a ward of the state. ”

    Probably because they know how thoroughly corrupt Illinois workers are. The government workers are the most likely one’s to commit such a crime in the first place – kind of like Penn State coaches.

    1. I don’t know, I think it’s just a ploy to ramp up sentences for people who solicit prostitution. A large proportion of teens in prostitution are runaways from foster care. The law already doesn’t require anyone to know they’re under 18 for a crime to be committed, and this new measure lets law enforcement tack on even harsher penalties and more charges for another factor that most people are unlikely to have any idea about.

      1. “The law already doesn’t require anyone to know they’re under 18 for a crime to be committed,”

        That’s true for statutory rape charges too. Try telling a judge “But she said she was 18!” That doesn’t fly – even if the girl tells the judge, “Yea, I lied to him.” Still jail time.

  8. Additionally, it establishes that being a victim of sex trafficking is an affirmative defense to prostitution charges.

    The only helpful bit, at all, and that they had to make it a law tells us everything we need to know.

  9. I wonder what it feels like to be constantly overcome with the fear that someone, somewhere might be having a good time.

  10. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if advocates are exaggerating on this as on other topics.

    Nevertheless, there *are* sex traffickers, and it would be great to get an honest assessment of the numbers, though studies of this kind are somewhat difficult.

    One of the federal government’s explicit responsibilities is enforcing the 13th Amendment, banning slavery.

    We can rejoice that there isn’t systematic, government-sponsored slavery in this country any more.

    But just as there will continue to be murderers and kidnappers despite the law, there will continue to be (literal) slavers.

    And I doubt this is confined to sex work, though the sex-trafficking angle is more…sexy.

    Catching the slavers and locking them up should be an actual priority for the federal government, as opposed to most of the crap they do.

    And if there turn out to be fewer slavers than the wilder activists claim, that’s great!

    1. “One of the federal government’s explicit responsibilities is enforcing the 13th Amendment, banning slavery.”

      Except when they feel like instituting a draft.

      1. ::mumble mumble:: social contract ::mumble mumble:: greater good

    2. “Catching the slavers and locking them up should be an actual priority for the federal government, as opposed to most of the crap they do.”

      I can agree with that. Slavery, unlike consensual prostitution, is an actual evil.

      1. But catching the rare and elusive actual slaver is much harder than catching the common girl/john on the street.

    3. I don’t disagree with anything you wrote. It is just that every time any law enforcement agency ostensibly goes after “sex trafficking” rings, all they arrest are garden variety hookers, escorts and johns.

      And by legalizing prostitution, it would be much easier for forced prostitutes to try to alert police, in addition to generally being safer for the girls in general. Now, even if girls are willing to talk to police, they are treated as criminals themselves, or not believed because, after all, they are just dirty whores.

      1. every time any law enforcement agency ostensibly goes after “sex trafficking” rings, all they arrest are garden variety hookers, escorts and johns.

        That’s because garden variety sex workers are a lot easier to catch, and far less likely to try to shoot their way out of getting arrested. After all, the most important thing is that the officers go home safe every night, isn’t it?

        -jcr

    4. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

      It doesn’t even have the usual weasel words that “Congress may pass …”. It pretty much demands Congress pass cuh laws and that the executive enforce them.

  11. “And by legalizing prostitution, it would be much easier for forced prostitutes to try to alert police, in addition to generally being safer for the girls in general.”

    Bingo! Which makes it reasonable to question the motives of the people who support laws against prostitution. The motive is NOT to “protect the women” – it couldn’t be. Not if they even have the slightest grasp of the issue.

  12. Employees of these [Florida sex-related] businesses must also receive training from the Department of Homeland Security on how to spot potential sex traffickers or victims of sex trafficking.

    So, a little vacation with strippers for DHS employees. No potential conflicts of interest or problems there.

    Also, since states like Florida can’t compel the DHS to offer this training, how did it come to be in the first place? How the fuck do strippers and dildo merchants relate to actual border security?

    1. Also, thanks, ENB, for another great article.

  13. So, what happens if the traffickers just flood the hotline with bogus reports to waste their resources?

    -jcr

    1. So, what happens if the traffickers right-minded just flood the hotline with bogus reports to waste their resources justify more funding?

  14. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong with confusing, complicated laws like these???

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