Home » Current Legislation S.178 JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING ACT 2015


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S.178 – Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX] (Introduced 01/13/2015)
Committees: Senate – Judiciary
Latest Action: 05/29/2015 Became Public Law No: 114-22. (TXT | PDF) (All Actions)
Roll Call Votes: There have been 14 roll call votes

Public Law No: 114-22 (05/29/2015)

(Although this measure has not been amended since it was passed by the Senate, the text was changed by H. Con. Res. 47 which made enrollment corrections, and the summary has been modified as necessary.)

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015


(Sec. 101) This section amends the federal criminal code to impose an additional assessment until the end of FY2019 of $5,000 on any non-indigent person or entity convicted of an offense involving: (1) peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons; (2) sexual abuse; (3) sexual exploitation and other abuse of children; (4) transportation for illegal sexual activity; or (5) human smuggling in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (exempting any individual involved in the smuggling of an alien who is the alien’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter). An assessment is not payable, however, until the person being assessed has satisfied all outstanding court-ordered fines, orders of restitution, and any other obligation related to victim compensation.

This section also establishes the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund into which revenues from such assessments shall be deposited and used in in FY2016-FY2019 to award grants to states and localities to combat trafficking, provide protection and assistance for victims of trafficking, develop and implement child abuse investigation and prosecution programs, and provide services for victims of child pornography. None of the amounts in the Fund may be used to provide health care or medical items or services, except for medical items or services to victims of trafficking.

(Sec. 102) This section amends the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are victims of severe forms of trafficking to obtain benefits and services available to such victims without obtaining official certification from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of their status as victims.

(Sec. 103) This section amends the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 to replace the pilot program to establish residential treatment facilities for juveniles subjected to trafficking with a program of three-year renewable block grants administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop, improve, or expand domestic child human trafficking deterrence programs that assist law enforcement and other entities in rescuing and restoring the lives of trafficking victims, while investigating and prosecuting offenses involving child human trafficking. No entity shall be disqualified from receiving a grant on the grounds that it has only recently begun soliciting data on child human trafficking.

Grant funds may be used for the establishment or enhancement of: (1) specialized training programs for law enforcement officers, first responders, health care and child welfare officials, juvenile justice personnel, prosecutors, and judicial personnel to identify victims and acts of child human trafficking and facilitate the rescue of child victims of human trafficking; (2) anti-trafficking law enforcement units and task forces to investigate child human trafficking offenses and to rescue victims; and (3) problem solving court programs for trafficking victims. Grant funds may also be used for activities of law enforcement agencies to find homeless and runaway youth.

DOJ must enter into a contract with a nongovernmental organization with experience in child human trafficking issues to conduct periodic evaluations of the such block grants to determine their effectiveness.

DOJ is authorized to use funds from the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund in each of FY2016-FY2020 to carry out the block grant program.

(Sec. 104) This section expand the definition of “child abuse” under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography and authorizes grants to develop and implement specialized programs to identify and provide direct services to victims of child pornography.

(Sec. 105) This section provides for the forfeiture of real or personal property that was involved in the commission of human trafficking crimes. (Currently, forfeiture is allowed if the property was used or intended to be used to commit such crimes.) DOJ must transfer assets that are forfeited to satisfy victim restitution orders arising from human trafficking crimes.

(Sec. 106) This section expands DOJ authority to intercept wire, oral, or electronic communications to include investigations of offenses relating to peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and trafficking.

(Sec. 107) This section amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to classify severe forms of trafficking in persons as a part I violent crime for purposes of allocating grant funds among states under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

(Sec. 108) This section provides for the prosecution of individuals who patronize or solicit persons for a commercial sex act, thus making traffickers and buyers equally culpable for sex trafficking offenses.

(Sec. 109) This section expresses the sense of Congress with respect to the criminal liability of buyers of commercial sex acts in sex trafficking prosecutions.

(Sec. 110) This section requires DOJ to ensure that: (1) all task forces and working groups within the Innocence Lost National Initiative engage in activities, programs, or operations to increase the investigative capabilities of state and local law enforcement officers in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting persons who patronize or solicit children for sex; and (2) all components and task forces with jurisdiction to detect, investigate, and prosecute cases of child labor trafficking engage in activities, programs, or operations to increase the capacity of such components to deter and punish child labor trafficking.

(Sec. 111) This section classifies producers of child pornography as traffickers engaged in illicit sexual conduct.

The evidentiary burden on the defense, in prosecutions for transporting minors to engage in illicit sexual conduct, to show that an accused reasonably believed that the minor had attained the age of 18 years is increased from a preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing evidence.

(Sec. 112) This section classifies crimes involving peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons as crimes of violence under the federal criminal code.

(Sec. 113) This section expands crime victims’ rights by requiring notice of the right: (1) to be informed in a timely manner of any plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement, and (2) to be informed of rights and services described in the Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 and contact information for the Office of the DOJ Victims’ Rights Ombudsman. Appellate courts must apply ordinary standards of appellate review in reviewing appeals filed by crime victims.

Combat Human Trafficking Act of 2015

(Sec. 114) This section requires DOJ to ensure that each DOJ anti-human trafficking program includes technical training on: (1) effective methods for investigating and prosecuting persons who obtain, patronize, or solicit commercial sex acts involving a person subject to severe forms of trafficking in persons (buyers); and (2) facilitating the provision of physical and mental health services to persons subject to severe forms of trafficking in persons. The Bureau of Justice Statistics of DOJ is required to prepare and submit annual reports on state enforcement of human trafficking prohibitions.

Survivors of Human Trafficking Empowerment Act

(Sec. 115) This section establishes the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking to provide advice and recommendations to the Senior Policy Operating Group established under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking. The Advisory Council terminates on September 30, 2020.

Bringing Missing Children Home Act

(Sec. 116) This section amends the Crime Control Act of 1990 to: (1) require state reports on missing children to include a recent photograph of the missing child (if available), (2) reduce from 60 days to 30 days the period for verifying and updating records on missing children in a state law enforcement system and in National Crime Information Center computer networks, (3) require notification to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of each report received of a child reported missing from a foster care family home or childcare institution, and (4) grant permission to the National Crime Information Center Terminal Contractor to update the missing person record in the National Crime Information Center computer networks with additional information obtained from missing person investigations.

(Sec. 117) This section requires the DOJ Inspector General to conduct annual audits of grant recipients under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of funds. DOJ is prohibited from awarding a grant to a nonprofit organization that holds money in offshore accounts for tax avoidance purposes.

The bill imposes restrictions and reporting requirements on DOJ conferences that use more than $20,000 in DOJ funds and prohibits grant recipients from lobbying any representative of DOJ or a state, local, or tribal government regarding the award of grant funding.

Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act of 2015 or the SAVE Act of 2015

(Sec. 118) This bill amends the federal criminal code to prohibit knowingly: (1) advertising commercial sex acts involving a minor or an individual engaged in such an act through force, fraud, or coercion; or (2) benefitting financially or otherwise from such advertising knowing that the individual involved was a minor or victim of force, fraud, or coercion.

(Sec. 119) DOJ must make available on the website of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention a database for trafficking victim advocates, crisis hotline personnel, foster parents, law enforcement personnel, and crime survivors that contains information on counseling and hotline resources, housing resources, legal assistance, and other services for trafficking survivors.

(Sec. 120) This section extends the statute of limitations for civil actions against perpetrators of human trafficking offenses until ten years after the victim reaches age 18.

(Sec. 121) The General Accountability Office (GAO) must: (1) conduct a study on each program or initiative authorized under this Act and other specified anti-trafficking Acts to determine whether any program or initiative is duplicative, and (2) submit a report to Congress on such study.


Subtitle A–Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking

(Sec. 201) This subtitle amends the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to include within criteria for awarding grants for services to runaway and homeless youth whether such youth have been subject to severe forms of trafficking in persons or sex trafficking as defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

Subtitle B–Improving the Response to Victims of Child Sex Trafficking

(Sec. 211) This subtitle amends the Missing Children’s Assistance Act to confirm that the cyber tipline for reporting internet-related child sexual exploitation includes child prostitution as a form of child sex trafficking.

Subtitle C–Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking

(Sec. 222) The Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking established under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 shall conduct a review of research and academic literature on trafficking in persons in the United States and make such review publicly available in an electronic format.

(Sec. 223) The GAO shall submit a report to Congress, one year after the enactment of this Act, that includes information on: (1) the efforts of federal and state law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking in the United States, and (2) each federal grant program for combatting human trafficking or assisting victims of trafficking.

(Sec. 224) DOJ is authorized to provide housing to victims of trafficking under the grant program for assistance to trafficking victims in the United States and other countries.

Subtitle D–Expanded Training

(Sec. 231) This section amends the Trafficking Protection Act of 2000 to require training for federal government personnel related to trafficking in persons to include: (1) a distance learning course on trafficking-in-persons issues and the Department of State’s obligations under such Act, designed for embassy reporting officers, regional bureaus’ trafficking-in-persons coordinators, and their superiors; (2) specific trafficking-in-persons briefings for all ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission before they depart for their posts; and (3) at least annual reminders to all such personnel and other federal personnel at each diplomatic or consular post outside the United States of key problems, threats, methods, and warning signs of trafficking in persons specific to the country of jurisdiction in which such post is located and appropriate procedures to report information acquired about possible trafficking cases.


Human Exploitation Rescue Operations Act of 2015 or the HERO Act of 2015

(Sec. 302) This title amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to operate, within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a Cyber Crimes Center to provide investigative assistance, training, and equipment to support domestic and international investigations by ICE of cyber-related crimes.

Within the Cyber Crimes Center, DHS shall operate a Child Exploitation Investigations Unit (CEIU), which shall:

  • coordinate all ICE child exploitation initiatives, including investigations into child exploitation, child pornography, child victim identification, traveling child sex offenders, and forced child labor, including the sexual exploitation of minors;
  • focus on child exploitation prevention, investigative capacity building, enforcement operations, and training for law enforcement personnel;
  • provide training and technical expertise to cooperating law enforcement agencies and personnel;
  • provide psychological support and counseling services for ICE personnel engaged in child exploitation prevention initiatives;
  • collaborate with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Association to Protect Children to recruit, train, equip, and hire wounded, ill, and injured veterans and transitioning service members through the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) Child Rescue Corps program;
  • collaborate with other governmental and nongovernmental entities for the sponsorship of, and participation in, outreach and training activities; and
  • collect and maintain data on the total number of suspects identified by ICE, the number of arrests and cases opened for investigation by ICE, and the number of cases resulting in prosecution and report on such data.

DHS shall operate, within the Cyber Crimes Center, a Computer Forensics Unit (CFU). The CFU is directed to: (1) provide training and technical support in digital forensics to ICE personnel and other law enforcement personnel investigating crimes; (2) provide computer hardware, software, and forensic licenses for all computer forensics personnel within ICE; (3) participate in research and development in the area of digital forensics; and (4) collaborate with DOD and the National Association to Protect Children to recruit, train, equip, and hire wounded, ill, and injured veterans and transitioning service members through the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) Child Rescue Corps program.

DHS shall also operate, within the Cyber Crimes Center, a Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU). The CCU shall: (1) oversee the cyber security strategy and cyber-related operations and programs for ICE, (2) enhance the ability of ICE to combat criminal enterprises operating on or through the Internet, (3) provide training and technical support in cyber investigations to ICE personnel and other law enforcement personnel, (4) participate in research and development in the area of cyber investigations, and (5) recruit participants in the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) Child Rescue Corps program for investigative and forensic positions.

Congress declares that Homeland Security Investigations of ICE should hire, recruit, train, and equipment wounded, ill, or injured military veterans who are affiliated with the HERO Child Rescue Corps program for investigative, intelligence, analyst, and forensic positions.

This section further amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to expand the purposes of the DHS Acceleration Fund for Research and Development of Homeland Security Technologies to include conducting research and development to advance technology for the investigation of child exploitation crimes, including child victim identification, trafficking in persons, child pornography, and for advanced forensics.

(Sec. 303) This section amends the federal criminal code to impose a fine and/or prison term of up to 10 years on anyone who knowingly transports any individual with the intent that such individual engage in prostitution or in any criminal sexual activity. DOJ must grant the request by a state attorney general for designation of a state or local attorney to prosecute a violation of such an offense unless DOJ determines that granting such request would undermine the administration of justice.


Rape Survivor Child Custody Act

(Sec. 404) This title directs DOJ to increase grant funding to states that have in place a law that allows the mother of any child that was conceived through rape to seek court-ordered termination of the parental rights of her rapist with regard to that child, which the court is authorized to grant upon clear and convincing evidence of rape. Authorizations of appropriations are provided in FY2015-FY2019 to cover such increases.


Military Sex Offender Reporting Act of 2015

(Sec. 502) This title amends the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act to direct DOD to provide DOJ with sex offender registration information, to be included in the National Sex Offender Registry and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, regarding persons who are required to register under such Act and who are: (1) released from military corrections facilities, or (2) convicted if the sentences adjudged by courts-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice do not include confinement.


(Sec. 601) This section amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to authorize DOJ to give preferential consideration in awarding public safety and community-oriented policing grants to an application from an applicant in a state that has in effect a law that: (1) treats a minor who has engaged in, or has attempted to engage in, a commercial sex act as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons; (2) discourages or prohibits the charging or prosecution of such individual for a prostitution or sex trafficking offense based on such conduct; and (3) encourages the diversion of such an individual to appropriate service providers, including child welfare services, victim treatment programs, child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers, or other social services.

(Sec. 602) This section amends the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVPA) to require DOJ’s annual report on federal agencies that are implementing provisions relating to the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to include information on the activities of such agencies, in cooperation with state, tribal, and local law enforcement officials, to identify, investigate, and prosecute: (1) sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion or with a minor; (2) sexual exploitation of children; (3) the selling and buying of children; (4) transportation with intent that the victim engage in illegal sexual activity; (5) coercion or enticement to travel for illegal sexual activity; and (6) transportation of minors for illegal sexual activity.

(Sec. 603) This section further amends VTVPA to require HHS, annually beginning in FY2017, to make grants for a national communication system to assist victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons in communicating with service providers.

(Sec. 604) This section amends the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to include victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons among those eligible for the Job Corps without being required to demonstrate low-income eligibility.

(Sec. 605) This section amends the federal judicial code to authorize the United States Marshals Service to assist state, local, and other federal law enforcement agencies, upon request, in locating and recovering missing children.

(Sec. 606) This section requires DOJ to implement and maintain a National Strategy for Combating Human Trafficking, which shall include: (1) integrated federal, state, local, and tribal efforts to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases; (2) case coordination with DOJ on human trafficking investigations among the U.S. Attorneys, relevant DOJ departments, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and (3) annual budget priorities and federal efforts dedicated to preventing and combating human trafficking.


Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015

(Sec. 702) This title requires the Health Resources and Services Administration of HHS to award a grant or contract to an accredited school of medicine or nursing with experience in the study or treatment of victims of a severe form of trafficking to train health care professionals to recognize and respond to trafficking victims.

Grantees must: (1) develop evidence-based best practices for health care professionals to recognize and respond to victims of a severe form of trafficking, (2) design and implement a pilot program to test the best practices and educational material developed to identify victims of human trafficking by health care professionals, and (3) analyze and report on the pilot program.

HHS must disseminate and post on its website evidence-based best practices identified by the pilot program as effective in recognizing potential victims of a severe form of human trafficking.

(Sec. 704) This section prohibits the authorization of additional funds to carry out this title.


Ensuring a Better Response for Victims of Child Sex Trafficking

(Sec. 802) This title amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require a state plan for its child protective services system to include a certified assurance that the state has in effect and is enforcing a law requiring: (1) identification and assessment of all reports involving children known or suspected to be victims of sex trafficking; and (2) training child protective services workers in identifying, assessing, and providing comprehensive services for children who are sex trafficking victims.

Each state receiving a grant must work with HHS to make an annual data report that includes the number of children determined to be victims of sex trafficking. A child is considered to be a victim of “child abuse and neglect” and of “sexual abuse” if the child is identified by a state or local agency employee as being a victim of sex trafficking or a victim of severe forms of trafficking in persons. A state is given the option to define “child” under such Act as a person who has not attained age 24.


(Sec. 902) This title requires DHS to implement a program to: (1) train and periodically retrain relevant personnel in the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other DHS personnel on how to effectively deter, detect, and disrupt human trafficking; and (2) ensure that such personnel regularly receive current information on matters related to the detection of human trafficking. DHS must certify to Congress that all such personnel have successfully completed required training.

(Sec. 904) DHS may provide training to assist any state, local, or tribal government or private organization in establishing a program of training to identify human trafficking.

(Sec. 905) This section expands the purposes for which funds from the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund may be used to include grant funding for state and local Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces to combat child exploitation.


Human Trafficking Survivors Relief and Empowerment Act of 2015

(Sec. 1002) This title sets forth additional criteria for granting preferential consideration of grant applications under the public safety and community-oriented policing grant program of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 by granting preference to applicants from states that have in effect a law that: (1) provides a process by which a human trafficking survivor can move to vacate any arrest or conviction records for a non-violent offense committed as a direct result of human trafficking, including prostitution or lewdness; (2) establishes a rebuttable presumption that any arrest or conviction of an individual for a human trafficking offense is a result of being trafficked if such individual has been granted nonimmigrant status as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, is certified by HHS as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, or has other similar documentation of trafficking; (3) protects the identify of individuals who are human trafficking survivors in public and court records; and (4) does not require an individual who is a human trafficking survivor to provide official documentation in order to receive protection under the law.

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