California lawmakers sent a bill to classify child sex trafficking as a serious felony to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk earlier this week after the legislature unanimously approved the measure.
The California legislature passed SB 14 in its final vote of approval to ramp up penalties for child sex traffickers, allowing state authorities to pursue life sentences under its “three strikes” law in some cases.
“SB 14 will serve to protect future generations by stopping people from engaging in this horrific crime,” Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, who wrote the bill, said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“SB 14 will send a direct message to those committing this horrific crime of selling our children for sex in the state of California that we will no longer stand by and tolerate this, and you will serve a lengthy prison sentence.”
Democrat state Senator Susan Rubio of Baldwin Park said the bill’s passage sends a message to victims that California lawmakers “see you . . . hear you . . . [and] are here to help you.”
State Senators unanimously passed the sex trafficking bill earlier in 2023, but it quickly became controversial among State Assembly Democrats when the left-wing members of the Public Safety Committee took issue with the language in the legislation.
In response, Grove reportedly said the criticism from Democrats that she the bill several times to reconcile the concerns.
“We don’t want anyone who is a victim of violent crime like human trafficking to be charged or put in prison for that,” Grove said.
“That is not my intent — that is not what the bill says.”
After facing backlash, the Assembly Public Safety Committee reversed course and approved the measure in a forced emergency hearing.
“When proposed policies punish more individuals than intended, the collateral damage to specific communities can cause a domino effect of irreparable injustice,” Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer said during an Assembly debate before he voted for SB 14 in July.
“Good to see. Thank you, @RobertRivas_CA for your leadership,” Newsom wrote in an X-post after the Assembly passed SB 14.
Newsom added that he contacted Senator Grove in appreciation of her “efforts on this and wanted to make sure she knew that today,” saying the issue is one “I care deeply about. I have since my time as (San Francisco) mayor, as a supervisor, working then with District Attorney Kamala Harris.”