The nation's 13 high-intensity child prostitution areas are right here in California, according to the FBI. Looking to change that, a bill authored by Senator Ted Lieu makes it clear: Our children are not for sale.
State senators Jerry Hill, Holly Mitchell and Lieu asked for legislators to take a stronger stance on a fight against an insidious crime that exploits those too young to defend themselves.
"Human trafficking is a huge problem in California," Lieu said.
SB 1388 passed Tuesday in a unanimous 34-0 vote and is now on its way to the Assembly.
Shifting the paradigm of blame, the bill looks to target the buyers and sellers.
"The real criminals are the Johns," he said.
Senator Bob Huff, who served as the principal co-author of the bill, said in a statement, "the action taken by the Senate should make it clear that our children are not for sale."
The bill will authorize a court to order someone convicted of soliciting a minor to pay an additional fine that cannot be less than $5,000 on top of the one given for soliciting commercial sex.
That additional money will go to programs to help the prostitute break out of the cycle of prostitution, LIeu said.
Child sex trafficking is a $32 billion a year industry.