(The Center Square) – Last month, in a sting operation called “Operation Better Pathways” with the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, 16 human trafficking victims were identified including 8 children. The operation’s coalition of federal, state and local law enforcement targeting areas known for sexual exploitation in San Diego and National City revealed the impact SB357 was having on identifying victims of human trafficking.
San Diego’s District Attorney Summer Stephan, who went to the locations being investigated, noted, “Young women being openly trafficked in broad daylight, with individuals paying for sex lined up like they were going through a fast-food drive-through. It’s an unacceptable situation.” Altogether 48 suspects were taken into custody.
In an attempt to repeal Senate Bill 357, which decriminalized loitering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution, California Minority Leader Brian Jones (R) brought an amendment to the floor, knowing that Senator Mike McGuire (D) would bring a motion to lay the amendment on the table – in other words, to scuttle it.
“If history is any guide, as I think has already been communicated, the majority leader is going to ask to lay this motion on the table.”
“A yes vote on laying these amendments on the table means letting a bad law stay on the books that isn’t working as intended, and in fact is allowing more women and young girls being sex trafficked. It means less arrests of pimps (who) are sex trafficking and law enforcement having fewer tools to help victims left out on the street. A no vote means this law has a chance to be repealed which will help victims of sex trafficking end pimps’ free rein on sex trafficking, and give law enforcement all the tools they need to protect women, young girls and all victims of sex trafficking. The truth is students, residents, business owners, tourists and the very sex workers engaging in this activity are victims of this bad and dangerous piece of legislation.”
SB357, authored by Senator Scott Weiner ,was passed last year with 29 Democrats voting for the bill. It had no Republican support.
“It’s time as a legislative body that we correct and fix a bill that is wreaking havoc in our communities across California. I’m referring to SB357 from last session that legalized loitering for prostitution and took away a critical tool that law enforcement officers used to help sex trafficking victims,” Jones said.
According to Jones, the bill was so controversial when it was passed, that it took Gov. Gavin Newsom nine months to sign the bill and in doing so he issued a formal letter.
Part of that letter stated “..we must be cautious about its implementation. My administration will monitor crime and prosecution trends for any possible unintended consequences and will act to mitigate any such impacts.”
Jones went on to emphasize, “We now know what those unintended consequences are, as communities throughout California are asking for a repeal of SB 357 for putting their families at risk and worsening sex trafficking rings, many of the victims which are..underage. Last month local television stations (revealed) video of sex workers soliciting right outside a Catholic School in East Oakland. Parents and residents were asked if this was a regular occurrence outside of the school, they said ‘It’s everyday, during all periods of the day.’ The situation is so bad in San Francisco that officials there have put up barricades on Mission Street because of the increase of sex work and traffic. An aide to the county supervisors office went on a ride-along with police and described the scene like this, ‘It was shocking. It was something we have never seen before. That intensity. That many sex workers. Pimps standing there.’”
The amendment was tabled in a vote along party lines from a motion brought by McGuire, meaning that its consideration has been postponed indefinitely.