Human Trafficking Legislation

Legislative Update on Human Trafficking Laws in Pennsylvania

Human Trafficking Legislation Update-September 2014
New Pennsylvania laws to protect victims of human trafficking go into effect

Human trafficking is modern day slavery and this crime is happening in Pennsylvania, across the United States and worldwide. Traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to manipulate victims into engaging in commercial sex acts, or labor or services, in exchange for something of monetary value. One of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that the industry generates more than $32 billion per year.   According to the national advocacy group Polaris Project, the average entry of children into sex trafficking is age 12-15 and runaway youth are at high risk for exploitation by traffickers.

Pennsylvania is now on the way to helping end this horrific crime and protect the victims who are exploited by traffickers. Senate Bill 75, introduced by Senator Stewart Greenleaf(R-Montgomery County) and co-sponsored by Sen. Dinniman and Sen. Leach, was passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly on June 30, 2014 and signed by Governor Corbett on July 2, 2014. Now known as Act 105, this legislation is effective as of September 2, 2014. Act 105 amends Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code (Title 18) and Civil Code (Title 42) to revise laws regarding human trafficking. Pennsylvania’s old law did not include a definition of sex trafficking or sexual servitude. Act 105 now includes new definitions of sex trafficking in the Crimes Code, providing prosecutors with important tools to charge traffickers with felony offenses when they engage in conduct that subjects a person to sexual servitude or sex trafficking.  Penalties are increased when the victim is a minor.

Additional offenses are created if a person prevents or restricts an individual’s ability to move or travel by destroying, concealing, or confiscating the person’s passport, immigration or other government documents. The Act also increases fines and penalties against individuals and businesses involved in the crime of human trafficking and adds procedures for seizing and forfeiting assets.  Proceeds from forfeitures and fines will be used to help to fund investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes and to establish grant programs and services to victims of human trafficking.

Protections for victims are expanded to ensure that their name is not disclosed during prosecution and requires the court to give “first consideration” for pretrial diversion programs. Act 105 also allows a victim of human trafficking to petition the court to vacate prior convictions where the offense was the direct result of human trafficking.  Act 105 also establishes a civil cause of action so that victims may seek compensatory and punitive damages along with other appropriate relief against their traffickers.

Many groups around the state, including members of the Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Advocacy Work Group, Pennsylvania’s network of rape crisis and domestic violence centers, along with governmental agencies and legislators, are working to develop public awareness and training programs as well as coordinate services for victims of human trafficking. For more information or to become involved with these efforts, contact Julie Dugery, Co-Chair, NOVA Public Affairs Committee at

Human Trafficking Legislation Update-December 2014
Pennsylvania Stakeholders Organize to Implement New Human Trafficking Laws in Pennsylvania

The process to begin implementing Act 105, Pennsylvania’s new law to protect victims of human trafficking got underway on November 12th in Harrisburg.  Members of the Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Implementation Work Group convened to establish a committee structure to organize and direct activities to ensure that Act 105 is enforced in a proactive way across Pennsylvania. Hugh Organ, Associate Director of Covenant House and co-chair of the Philadelphia Anti Human Trafficking Coalition, facilitated the meeting.  Utilizing the Massachusetts Task Force Model, the group agreed to establish four committees, operating as the Pennsylvania Alliance Against Trafficking in Humans (PAATH).

The Administration Committee will provide logistical and staffing assistance for the PAATH, with assistance from Shea Rhodes, Director of the Villanova Law School Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

The Public Awareness Committee will be tasked with educating communities about human trafficking, its risks and harms, common tactics and recruitment techniques as well as how to identify human trafficking, and how to contact appropriate service providers and law enforcement.

The Victim Services Committee will be charged with the rehabilitation of human trafficking victims. This group will create statewide best practices for the care of victims with regard to healthcare, housing, employment, education, training, English as a 2nd language, interpreting, child care and immigration and legal services. The Victim Services Committee will also develop a network of service providers made up of state agencies, NGO’s, coalitions and academic researchers.

The Training Committee will create training models on Act 105 for several different types of law enforcement groups across the state, including state and local police, county and deputy sheriffs.  They will also train adult and juvenile parole and probation officers, attorney general agents and the staffs of juvenile detention centers. Those who work in domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking shelters will also receive this training in an effort to guarantee the safety of victims within shelters.

These four groups will work in a collaborative manner, meeting several times throughout the year to support the implementation of Act 105.

To learn more about these efforts contact Julie Dugery, Co-chair, NOVA Public Affairs Committee at


Bill Mandating Advertisement of National Human  Trafficking Resources Hotline Becomes Effective in Pennsylvania

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Paul Clymer (R- Bucks)  as HB235, requires that the National Human Trafficking Resources Hotline-1-888-3737-888  be advertised in  certain types of establishments in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  A companion bill, SB338 was introduced by Sen.  Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery). The legislation, passed with unanimous support in both the Senate and the House, was signed by Governor Corbett on October 25,  2012. Act 197 goes into effect on December 24, 2012.

Human trafficking is the second largest form of organized  crime in the world and a study by the Pennsylvania General Assembly-Joint State  Government Commission found that both sex trafficking and labor trafficking are present in Pennsylvania and that the state is a source, destination and pass through state for trafficking in persons.

Act 197 seeks to combat human trafficking and provide support  for victims in Pennsylvania by posting information about this important  resource.  The following establishments are required to post the Hotline number:

• Massage parlors, spas or a similar enterprise.
• Bars, taverns or clubs that have a valid liquor, malt or brewed beverage license.
• Adult entertainment enterprises.
• Hotels or motels found to be a drug-related nuisance or common nuisance.
• Airports, train stations and bus stations.
• Welcome centers and rest areas operated by PennDOT.

The hotline directs people to a national, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, toll-free call center that refers callers to local agencies that can provide a range of  comprehensive services, including crisis intervention. The Hotline can be reached by calling 1-888-3737-888 and is a resource provided by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services and operated by the Polaris Project, a non-profit, non-governmental agency that has been combatting human trafficking since 2002.

The sign may be downloaded at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Website and establishments that fail to post signage would be subject to civil penalties.

Joint State  Government Commission Releases Report on Human Trafficking in Pennsylvania

The crime of human trafficking continues to grow around the world, in the United States and here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The Joint State Government Commission of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania released a comprehensive report in June 2012:  Human Trafficking In Pennsylvania: Proposed Recommendations and Proposed Legislation (pdf).

S U M M A R Y – Report on Human Trafficking in Pennsylvania

The crime of human trafficking is growing in Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth has seen many local and regional collaborative responses rise to combat this crime. Inroads have been made in public awareness, training first responders, and in providing services to the many victims. This study by the Joint State Government Commission proposes numerous reforms, including draft legislation, to help accelerate efforts to combat human trafficking in the state. The study was conducted under Senate Resolution 253 of 2010, sponsored by Senator Stewart Greenleaf, and was aided by an Advisory Committee of experts. For the first time, a proposed state plan addresses human trafficking, coordinates services, enhances collaboration and strengthens Pennsylvania law. Highlights of the report include:


  • The two most common forms of human trafficking – sex trafficking and labor trafficking – obtained through the use of force, fraud or coercion, exist in Pennsylvania.
  • It is the second largest form of organized crime in the world behind the illegal drug trade.
  • 12.3 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking.
  • Pennsylvania is a source, destination and pass-through state for trafficking in persons.
  • Trafficking victims may be hard to identify and are sometimes treated as criminals.
  • Public awareness and professional training, increased penalties and access to victim services are crucial for combating human trafficking.
  • Success in combating human trafficking requires concerted efforts of organizations and agencies on the regional, national and international levels.


  • Recommendations contained in the report focus on three specific areas: Prevention and Awareness; Investigations and Prosecution; and Protection and Support.
  • This report proposes a new Chapter 30 (Human Trafficking) of Title 18 Pa.C.S., including:
    1) a state Council for the prevention of human trafficking within PCCD;
    2) clear definitions of sex and labor trafficking;
    3) increased fines and penalties for trafficking and involuntary servitude, and adds penalties for business
    4) entities, including license revocation and forfeiture of contracts;
    5) participation in the national human trafficking hotline;
    6) increased training for first responders;
    7) expanded resources available to victim service providers.
  • Enacting these policy and legislative recommendations will increase the training and awareness of law enforcement and first responders, expand the legal tools available for prosecutors and investigators, and provide more resources to victim service providers and advocates.