State Sen. Daylin Leach of eastern Pennsylvania is supporting two pieces of legislation designed to combat human trafficking in Pennsylvania.
Leach said too often, minors are arrested for prostitution and treated as criminals when they are, in fact, victims.
"They're forced into doing this by pimps and traffickers, yet the pimps and traffickers are never there when the person's arrested," Leach said. "So we charge the young lady and she has a criminal record, and she has to deal with that, whereas the person who's actually responsible faces no consequences."
Under current law, the minors remain under the sway of the pimps and traffickers and go right back to them when released, according to Leach, who said Senate Bills 75 and 915 would provide diversionary programs and services for victims and monetary and criminal penalties on the true perpetrators.
Leach said the safe harbor provisions in S.B. 915 are a bit more controversial than the broad provisions of S.B. 75 because there are those who view the lessening of any penalties as "coddling criminals," but he expects both bills will pass the Senate overwhelmingly and move on to the House, which, he said, is "always a process."