TRENTON, N.J. – Fines collected from convicted prostitution clients will be used to help victims of modern-day slavery. The General Assembly on Thursday passed legislation that will put that money into the Human Trafficking Survivors Assistance Fund, established in 2013 to provide services for those who have been trafficked as well as create training and education programs to raise awareness of human trafficking.
Assemblyman Antwan McClellan sponsored the bill (A5310).
“Human trafficking is truly one of the basest forms of deception and abuse I’ve ever learned of. Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable among us with promises of a better life. Instead, these children, women and men are exploited for slave labor. Yes, even right here in New Jersey,” McClellan (R-Cape May) said. “It’s fitting that those who are fined for patronizing prostitutes have those fines used to help combat this heinous scourge.”
The U.S. State Department estimates that 27.6 million persons worldwide have been trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. While anyone can be trafficked, in the United States, most victims hail from East Asia and the Pacific; 70% are female and 50% are children, and most are forced into the commercial sex trade.
While California, Texas, Florida and New York consistently have the most reported incidents of human trafficking, the N.J. State Police say New Jersey’s dense population and prominent location along the Route 95 corridor make it an attractive throughway and stop for traffickers. Since 2007, there have been nearly 4,000 identified victims of human trafficking in the state.
In January, an Atlantic City man was convicted on two counts of first-degree human trafficking and third-degree promoting prostitution stemming from a 2017 arrest. More recently, state police arrested eight people in July after busting a prostitution trafficking ring in Trenton.
“Anything we can do to raise awareness to help these victims heal and regain their lives is worth it,” McClellan added.