COLUMBUS -- Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has signed a bill making human trafficking a felony. Ohio was among a handful of states without a stand-alone human trafficking law.
Prosecutors previously could beef up related crimes by attaching a human trafficking specification to increase an offender's penalties.
Backers of the new law said prosecutors don't use the specification because it's complicated.
The new statute, which takes effect in March, makes the stand-alone felony punishable by up to eight years in prison.
The governor said establishing human trafficking as a second-degree felony is an important step in taking on a "horrific human rights violation."
The legislation also clarifies and strengthens penalties for kidnapping, abduction and other related offenses.