Friday, February 17, 2012

Short, sweet, and simple

Yesterday afternoon, I was at the Nebraska Legislature, where the Judiciary Committee was holding a public hearing on LB1145, a bill introduced by Senator Amanda McGill concerning human trafficking.  I dread these hearings, because you just never know how long it will be. I've been there for hours on some occasions, waiting for my turn to testify. It turned out to be a good day, though, and I was in and out rather quickly.

The Judiciary Committee enforces a three minute time limit, so you have to get to the point.  I limited my remarks to just one aspect of the bill: a provision that would increase the maximum penalty for the crime of pandering when the victim is under the age of 18.  I gave an example of a case where justice might have been better served, and public safety enhanced, had this been the law.  The overtime warning light blinked red as I uttered my final syllable.

Back at the County-City building, I encountered a colleague, who shall remain nameless for the time being.  "How'd it go?" she inquired.  "Short, sweet, and simple," I replied.  "You, or your testimony?" she asked.



At any rate, for those of you interested, here is the text of my testimony:

"I am here on behalf of the City of Lincoln to support LB 1145. I testified here two months ago on Legislative Resolution 243, and gave some local examples of human trafficking cases in Lincoln.  Although few of these come to the attention of the police, I believe that they are more common than most people realize.
Today, I would like to focus on the primary reason I support LB 1145. The bill changes the crime of pandering from a Class 4 Felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, to a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, when the victim is under the age of 18.  I think this change treats the crime with the gravity it deserves. 
Shortly after my appointment as Lincoln’s police chief, our officers became involved in a human trafficking investigation in which a 28 year old man was ultimately convicted of pandering.  He had lured a girl who had just turned 16 into the sex trade.  The case that led to his conviction involved arranging an act of prostitution with a 47 year-old man here in Lincoln. 
The “John” was convicted of debauching a minor, a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and sentenced to two years probation.  The pimp was convicted of pandering and sentenced to prison for 2-4 years.  He served a little less than two years, and was released. He has since been convicted of contempt of court, assault, three additional sex-related misdemeanors, and a felony Federal weapons violation that sent him to Leavenworth for a few years.
Something just isn’t right about this. Pandering, ought to be a more serious offense and the court should have the leeway to impose a more serious sentence."


ARRRRG!!!! said...

I hope they added some of this to the punishment too.

Anonymous said...

Pandering and prostitution are a huge problem on our interstate rest areas and truck stops. These crimes are often overlooked because of jurisdictional issues and it usually isn't thought to affect locals directly.

That may not be true though. STD's are epidemic in Omaha and I assume Lincoln. These diseases can be spread very quickly from Truckstop or Rest areas to various local populations along the way. There are PIMPS out there plying their trade from Big Rigs that never haul one dollars worth of freight.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Being somewhat familiar with the case you reference, I have to agree that the penalties for this type of crime should be increased.

However I am somewhat confused regarding the "trafficking" aspect. The victim, pimp, and "John" were all local people so I'm not sure i would apply that term to the actions of any of the individuals.

Is this term being used to refer to any act committed dealing with the illicit sex industry?

Steve said...

I have no problem with increasing the punishment for pandering, as well as lots of other crimes. I'm not sure about the part of this bill that allows for the prostitutes to have their records cleared. I don't know all the details, so I can't say whether I'd go for that or not. I can see where a youngster dragged into the world of prostitution against their will should probably have that option. I'm wondering though, how anyone is going to know in every case whether it was done through choice or not. I don't like the idea of letting prostitutes off the hook if it was their chosen behavior, that is as long as prostitution is illegal. There are those who would argue it should be legalized, and many countries have done so.

Anonymous said...

So, after plea deals cut by case-overloaded prosecutors who live in gibbering, mortal terror of time-eating jury trials, the III felonies will become IIIa or IV felonies, the IV felonies will become I misdemeanors, and no one is likely to do any jail time, as long as they can afford a competent private attorney. Still, it's an improvement over the present structure.

I don't think that proliferate STDs among prostitutes and their clients meets the definition of epidemic, because such STDs have always been common among those two groups (as well as IV drug users in modern times), but it is pandemic. The distinction is important.

Herb said...

I don't believe this story.

You're not that short.

Anonymous said...

6:51. The distinction between epidemic and pandemic is going to change when some of the new Superbugs resistant to current antibiotics make their presence known.

A new Super Gonorrhea has already infected some and is a huge worry to CDC and those that study these diseases. With modern day transportation a bug can travel from Europe to the USA in less time than it takes a Big Rig to go from L.A. to NYC. However the typical infected airlines passenger doesn't make too many stops along the way to their destination. An infected passenger working their way from Truckstops and Rest Areas from Coast to Coast may make dozens of stops along the way leaving a reminder to the local health officials that they were there.

It is going to take both medical and law enforcement people working together and coordinating efforts to head off whet could be a disaster. Recent comments by readers on an LJS article about the concern in the Unicameral ridicule their efforts. Public awareness is zilch but will change when it is too late.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Gun Nut, You are absolutely correct.

Anonymous said...

Treatable or not, they will still be STDs, transmitted between prostitutes and their clients, or between IV drug users and their sexual partners. The diseases may have become heftier, but the affected groups are pretty much still the same as they always he been.

What's the common thread? The high-risk lifestyle. If a person's partner is polygamously[sic] promiscuous, uses prostitutes, or shoots up dope, maybe they've made a serious error in character judgment when it comes to selecting that partner. It's still, and will remain, with few exceptions, almost exclusively pandemic, not epidemic. Call me when we start seeing transmission by airborne means on a crowded city bus, off doorknobs, or orally through tap water.

Does that mean we shouldn't care about the pandemic, or that we shouldn't develop countermeasures? No, we should still fight it by all means available, including stern prosecution and also drug research. You're never going to get rid of prostitution, nor IV drug use, or even legal sexual promiscuity, so you have to deal with the backsplatter.