Public policy is just one of the means of confronting human trafficking, and both state and federal law address the issue in a variety of ways. The federal law focuses on protection, prosecution, and prevention, while the state law addresses accountability for both the demand and supply side of sex trafficking (‘pimps’ and ‘johns’), as well as defining human trafficking in the civil rights code.
Maine State Laws
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 is the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking in persons. The law provides a three-pronged approach that includes prevention, protection, and prosecution. The Act has been reauthorized a number of times since its establishment, and provides many of the tools used to combat trafficking, such as the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking within the State Department; an interagency task force; establishes the T-Visa, which offers protection and assistance for non-domestic certified victims of trafficking; and makes human trafficking a federal crime with severe penalties.
22 USC § 7102; 8 CFR § 214.11(a): Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.
22 USC § 7102: Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section at the US Department of Justice addresses other federal laws which may be related to trafficking and exploitation (such as child pornography and prostitution). A complete description of those laws and the federal response is available here.
In recent years, Maine’s human trafficking-related laws have shifted dramatically. In 2013, the crime of “Aggravated Sex Trafficking” was established, along with a number of other elements-- such as criminalizing the promotion of commercial sex with a person less than 18 years old-- to ensure a more comprehensive response in Maine. This effort was developed in coalition with numerous agencies including the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Work Group and went to the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee with the full support of the Criminal Law Advisory Commission. The Maine legislature later signed “LD 1730 An Act to Assist Victims of Human Trafficking” into law, which provides an affirmative defense for survivors of trafficking who are charged with prostitution, and it adds an additional fine for those convicted of aggravated sex trafficking.
The Polaris Project, which houses the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and National Trafficking Hotline, advocates for state and federal policy improvements regarding human trafficking. They suggest that states address eleven recommended topic areas to achieve a comprehensive anti-trafficking response. Maine has many of these components, though not all of them are in state statute. State policy is complicated, and successful policy proposals include the voices of victim service providers, law enforcement, prosecution, and survivors. Additionally, a state’s unique statutory framework, victims’ experiences, and local social and cultural norms shape legislation to ensure that it is appropriate and timely, while continuing to strive for a comprehensive response to trafficking.
The Maine Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Network, through MECASA, tracks bills, testifies before the Legislature, and engages policymakers on issues which affect survivors and our communities. If you would like more information about sex trafficking legislation in Maine, please contact us.
Sex Trafficking Provision
Labor Trafficking Provision
Asset Forfeiture & Investigative Tools for Law Enforcement
Lower Burden of Proof for Sex Trafficking of Minors
Access to Civil Damages
Human Trafficking Task Force
Posting a Human Trafficking Hotline
Training Requirement for All Law Enforcement
Safe Harbor - Protecting Sexually Exploited Minors
Vacating Convictions for Sex Trafficking Victims