Sex Trafficking

Human Trafficking Is the New 'Crack-Cocaine Epidemic,' Says California Lawmaker

He's right, but not for the reasons he thinks.


Lord Jim/Flickr

At a hearing on new measures to address human trafficking, California Assemblyman Reggie-Jones Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) told fellow lawmakers that "the last time we've had this kind of emergency was when we had the crack-cocaine epidemic." 

Sadly, Sawyer was not referencing the ways in which the current popular panic about sex trafficking and governmental responses to it mirror the outlandish, hysteria-based, and detrimental state approach to the war on drugs. Rather, Sawyer sees our attention to the "crack-cocaine epidemic" as something we should now strive to emulate with human trafficking. 

In many, many respects, lawmakers, police, and federal officials already are treating sex trafficking in the same way they did the drug war. The dominant legislative response has been increased criminalization of all sorts of commercial sexual activity, as a report commissioned by the Department of Justice noted recently—although there's no evidence that this corresponds to less commercial sexual activity or more human-trafficking arrests or prosecutions. 

One way this increased criminalization plays out is in more stings on sex buyers, rather than sex sellers. In at least 21 states, "sex trafficking laws have been amended or originally enacted with the intent to decisively reach the action of buyers of sex," according to the anti-trafficking nonprofit Shared Hope International. The crack down on sex buyers operates under the theory that if we "end demand" for commercial sexual activity there will be no market for trafficked individuals. As I pointed out in a November 2015 Reason story on U.S. sex trafficking, it was also a popular drug-war rallying cry. 

"Ending the demand for drugs is how, in the end, we will win" the drug war, said then-President Ronald Reagan in 1988. In fact, he declared, ending demand was how we were already winning:

"The tide of the battle has turned, and we're beginning to win the crusade for a drug-free America," Reagan claimed.

In reality, the number of illicit drug users in America has only risen since then, despite the billions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of people locked away. In 1990, for instance, 7.1 percent of Americans had used some sort of illegal drug in the past month, according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. By 2002 it had risen to 8.3 percent, and by 2013 to 9.4 percent.

NEXT: Male Student Had Drunken Sex with Female Non-Student. Her Dad Called It Rape. Expulsion Imminent.

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  1. California ponders whether prostitutes are criminals or victims


    1. Charlie Brown agrees.

    2. Its really just a matter of timing, isn’t it?

      First you’re a criminal, and once the State gets its meathooks on you, you’re a victim.

  2. How can we have a new war on drugs when the old one is still going strong?

  3. Listen, we got rid of drugs, and now we are going to get rid of prostitution. It is so simple!

    1. Don’t forget how they won the battle against Satan worshipers and day care perverts with their cages and animal sex.

      1. It’s almost like we just move from overreacting about one moral panic to another without ever learning anything.

  4. At a hearing on new measures to address human trafficking, California Assemblyman Reggie-Jones Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) told fellow lawmakers that “the last time we’ve had this kind of emergency was when we had the crack-cocaine epidemic.”

    Someone slept through the 80’s.

    1. If drug abuse was the “new slavery” of the 80’s and human trafficking is the “new slavery” of the current decade, HM, what would you propose was the “new slaveries” of the decades in between?

      *Waits patiently for response from He Who Links To Sundries Of/For Manifold Purposes.*

      1. For the oughts, weren’t we all enslaved by the evil Republican Darth Cheney/Chimpy McBushitler cabal?

        1. Well, that one was real. Though I suppose “we continued to be enslaved under…”might be more accurate.

  5. From the linked article, with is fucking titled California ponders whether prostitutes are criminals or victims:

    When the deadline to submit new legislation arrived Feb. 19, lawmakers had submitted at least 20 bills tackling the issue /blockquote


    Though the phrase “human trafficking” may evoke sex work, experts note that labor trafficking also enslaves people across the economy. “It’s crazy, the industries that it’s touching,” said Stephanie Richard of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, citing workers in hotels, farm fields, nail salons and even Christmas tree farms. Often, victims are in plain sight.

    “When someone is working in a restaurant or cleaning a hotel or working construction, you don’t drive by and say, ‘That person must be enslaved,’ ” said FBI Special Agent Rebekah Bills, who works trafficking cases out of the agency’s Sacramento bureau.

    1. An enormous amount of what they consider ‘labor trafficking’ is actually illegal immigrants working off the grid and not getting paid federally mandated minimum wages.

      So they aren’t actually slaves, they’ve just agreed to work for a wage the state, in its infinite wisdom, has determined they shouldn’t be allowed to work for.

      1. It is a known phenomenon in the SF Bay Area for Chinese construction contractors to bring illegal immigrant labor from China and essentially keep them as slaves since they typically don’t speak any English and have the idea that if they call attention to themselves they will be immediately deported or imprisoned. I personally know a woman who went to jail for doing exactly that. Ironically, Willie Brown defended her in court (yes, *that* Willie Brown).

        One might point out, though, that this practice would be impossible with open borders.

        1. One might point out, though, that this practice would be impossible with open borders.

          Or just a feasible guest-worker program.

        2. Why would it be impossible, they could lie just as easily as they do now.

          1. For the same reason that it is impossible to set up an illegal Pepsi-Cola smuggling ring. You can’t compete with the legal product unless it is overly regulated, taxed or restricted in some way by the state. That’s where the huge profit motive comes from.

  6. “Human Trafficking Is the New ‘Crack-Cocaine Epidemic,’ Says California Lawmaker”

    So it’s totally bogus?

    1. Maybe he means the FBI distributed prostitutes to put people in jail like they did crack and kiddie porn.

  7. Mean while,in a undisclosed location,Warty goes about his business as usual.

  8. As we become more and more like the “adults” in South Park every single day.

      1. Oral dam?

    1. The lack of bitches in your general area at this time can be directly attributed to the alarming rise in the rate of human stuck-in-trafficking.

  9. Wut da fuq?

    No Friday Funnies last week …

    No PM Links today …

    Ben Carson dropping out …


    1. The PM Links is two threads below this one. Though I wouldn’t expect anyone who participates in a Links thread to have the cognitive skills necessary to figure that out.

      1. Hey! I resemble that remark!

      2. I dunno if you are on the 420 or its a 7:01 situation, but damned if I can find the PM links …

        You have a linky there, Hugh?

        1. Oh, I get it.

          Ed pulled a fast one.

          1. (waves hand mystically) these are not the links you are looking for…

  10. Workin’ on a sex farm..

    1. Go on.

    2. Tryin’ to raise some hard love!

      1. Radar love?

        1. Still living in the Twilight Zone?

    3. I keep tellin’ ya, I just grow sorghum here.

  11. Holy crap! Just listening to NPR that’s doing a story on the tsunami of human trafficking washing up on our shores and the new office on human trafficking in the HHS. Their poster child is some woman who shows up at the hospital and tells the doc she has had a tracking device implanted in her by her pimp. The doc is skeptical but there’s a small cut on her butt so he x-rays it – there’s something in there. It’s a pet-tracking rfid chip “no bigger than a grain of rice” and the doc is now a believer in the human trafficking story, he’s seen it with his own eyes, pimps installing tracking devices in their sex-slaves just like they’re livestock so they can’t run away.

    Two little problems – if it’s no bigger than a grain of rice, how hard would it be for this woman to have dug it out herself if she wanted to, and that’s not how rfid pet tracking chips work. You have to scan the chip with a device that you have to be right next to the chip, it’s not like the guy has a cell-phone app where he can just go and check to see the GPS location of the chip and know where this woman is. So is this doc that stupid or is NPR this stupid or is NPR just not telling the rest of the story, that maybe this woman was told by her pimp that this was a tracking device so it was no good for her to try to run away and she believed it even though it wasn’t true, and NPR thinks we’re that stupid? (I’m going with one from column B and one from column C, the doc ain’t that stupid.)

    1. I was going to comment on that as well (yes I listen to NPR or whatever distributes Marketplace every day. Probably some subsumed masochistic streak).

      She may have believed it was a “GPS tracker” but when they said “size of a grain of rice”, I knew what it must be and that it doesn’t track anything, as you say. I wouldn’t doubt that some unpleasant pimps do that and that their victims believe that it can track them. But it’s not going to allow your pimp to track you down wherever you go. Unless maybe they are in cahoots with all the stores that use RFID to track inventory or something.

    2. The most ridiculous thing in all this is, of course, that Jerryskids listens to NPR.

  12. I am diggin that pic of the handcuffs and miniskirt.

    1. I am thinking that ENB has to have, at this point, quite a collection of pics of hot chicks in handcuffs.

  13. Indeed it is! The new crisis is just as fake as the old one.

  14. A?f?ter be????in??g fir??ed from my old job 6 months ago, i’ve had luck to learn about this great company online that was a lifesaver for me… They offer online home-based w0rk. My last month payment after working with them for 6months was 9000 bucks…ZT Great thi?ng ab?out it wa?s th?at only requirement for the job is basic typing and reliable int?ernet…If you th?ink this co?uld b?e for you th?en find o?ut more he?re?….


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