Tougher penalties for domestic violence, sex trafficing
HARTFORD — The Senate early Friday approved legislation to enhance domestic-violence laws, and increase penalties against sex trafficking.
The bills, approved unanimously with no discussion at about 2 a.m., had been previously approved in the House and now head to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for final review.
The domestic-violence bill would toughen penalties for stalking and harassment through social media.
“It is critical that our domestic violence laws adapt in order to keep up with our changing forms of communication,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, in a statement after the vote. “With threats and harassment made through social media platforms increasing, the General Assembly is ensuring that victims are fully protected under the law.”
The human-trafficking bill, also approved unanimously with no discussion, would also provide more education on the crime to state agencies, including typical scenarios involving hotel rooms and older men with teenagers. Businesses would be encouraged to post signage with a hotline phone number to the state Trafficking in Persons Council.
“This legislation makes it crystal clear to perpetrators that we take the crime of human trafficking extremely seriously in our state, and those who perpetrate it will face the same punishment in our courts as they would at the federal level,” said Senator Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, in a statement after the vote. “Victims of human trafficking face a lifetime of recovery from the trauma of the abuse they suffer at the hands of traffickers, and it is only right that the criminals who inflict that trauma face stiff penalties.”
The new penalties include Class A felonies, with up to 25 years in prison, for those trafficking people - usually for sex - and patronizing a minor being sold for sex. It would create a new crime of commercial sex abuse of a minor, a Class B felony that would be upgraded to a Class A felony in cases where minors are under 15 years of age.
In unrelated action, the Senate voted unanimously, with no discussion, to approve a bill that would allow young teens to escape sex-offender penalties for so-called sexting behavior, in which children send and receive inappropriate images on their mobile phones and computers.
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