Gov. John Kasich on June 27 signed into law Ohio’s Safe Harbor Act, what is being touted as one of the country’s toughest human trafficking bills. The law’s passage comes shortly after Kasich received a list of 26 recommendations from the Human Trafficking Task Force, established in March, outlining ways to better coordinate efforts statewide to deal with human trafficking.
The bill, H.B. 262, took effect immediately. It stiffens a human-trafficking charge to a first-degree felony accompanied by a mandatory 10-year sentence, requires convicted traffickers to register as sex offenders, provides training to police officers to handle allegations of trafficking, authorizes police to arrest people who pay for juvenile prostitutes and promotes rehabilitation for trafficking victims as opposed to jail time, among other changes.
The Safe Harbor Act is intended to take a more victim-centered approach to the issue of “modern-day slavery,” instead cracking down on punishing those who perpetuate the industry and helping recognize and treat trafficking victims.
Ohio is suspected to be a major player in the U.S. human trafficking industry due to its proximity to Canada and strong highway system, growing demand for cheap labor and high immigrant population, according to the report.