At the tail end of their legislative session, the Ohio state senate has passed legislation that would make human trafficking a felony in the state. The move comes after over 800 Change.org members asked Ohio lawmakers not to let the legislation expire with the current session. This is a fantastic victory for the thousands of people trafficked in Ohio each year, as they can now access services and seek justice against their traffickers. The only step that remains is for Governor Strickland to sign the bill into law. Last month, Change.org members wrote to Ohio legislators asking them to support the passage of SB 235 — a bill that makes trafficking a felony in Ohio. Initially, it was feared that the bill wouldn’t even make the next legislative session, due to time constraints. But talk about a comeback. Thanks to passionate advocates from all over the country, the bill sailed through the House and Senate last week, passing 95-0. This bipartisan effort should be applauded for demonstrating a strong stance against trafficking in Ohio, and for helping effectively prosecute the horrendous crime of modern-day slavery.
Specifically, the law makes trafficking a stand-alone felony, punishable by up to 8 years in prison. It also expands the previous law to include forced labor, and makes it a first-degree felony to force a person younger than 16 into prostitution. Before the passage of this law, Ohio’s large immigration population, close proximity to the Canadian border, and failure to investigate runaway cases made it an attractive state for traffickers. Now, these criminals will likely think twice before bringing sex trafficking and labor exploitation to the Buckeye State.
But the fight's not over yet. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland still needs to sign the bill into law. Ask him to make ending human trafficking in Ohio a priority and sign the bill into law this holiday season.
For the 1000 children and 800 migrant workers trafficked through Ohio last year, this law could not have passed soon enough. Thank you for your support, and for advancing the fight to end human trafficking.