Last year, 193 sex trafficking cases were reported in New Jersey, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Nationally, there were 7,500.
Now, Democratic Assemblyman Troy Singleton is introducing a new legislative package to enhance New Jersey’s sex trafficking laws by cracking down on enablers and requiring truck drivers to report signs of trafficking.
Singleton says one bill mimics the one in Pennsylvania, which targets enablers such as hotels and motels that turn a blind eye to human trafficking because they stand to profit from it.
“Their proposal allows lawsuits to be brought against operators in that space,” says Singleton. It would allow for civil actions against individuals who knowingly are profiting from the commission from human trafficking offenses.”
The bill was born out of a court case under a 2014 Pennsylvania law related to a hotel/motel operator in which a young teenage girl was being held captive. People were seen coming in and out of her room at all hours. He says it’s hard to believe the hotel operator had no idea what was going on in that room.
The second bill involves the trucking industry. Because there are over 3 million truck drivers on New Jersey roadways, Singleton says they can be a great line of defense for putting more eyes and ears on the problem.
What the bill does is utilize truck drivers by being able to see things that are going on. They are normally in places where victims would be housed, such as rest stops and motels. He says the bill mimics a recent proposal that was enacted in Ohio that began requiring that commercial truck drivers be trained on how to spot the tell-tale signs of human sex trafficking.
Singleton explains that truck drivers would have to take a one-time training course that should be provided by a recognized nonprofit.
The training applies to new applicants looking to get a commercial trucking license and those seeking license renewal or reissue. The training course would be reviewed at least every two years and modified if necessary.
“We don’t feel like it’s a burden to get this training and essentially it will be an opportunity to save lives.”