What others say: Standing against sex trafficking

  • Tuesday, April 28, 2015 4:18pm
  • Opinion

Sex trafficking is a difficult issue to confront. It’s hard to think about people being placed in such a position, much less talk about it and develop effective strategies to combat it. Therefore, it’s heartening the U.S. Senate, in a rare show of bipartisanship, came together this week to pass legislation aimed at protecting victims of sex trafficking and making punishing the perpetrators of such crimes more effective. Kudos especially to Sen. Dan Sullivan, who added an amendment that will give Alaska and other states the power to pursue interstate cases when the U.S. Justice Department won’t.

The sex trafficking bill is surprisingly wide-ranging for a piece of legislation passed by a unanimous 99-0 vote. It will give new resources to law enforcement agents pursuing sex trafficking cases, as well as set up a fund with fees from convicted sex traffickers to help victims. Aiding in the bill’s bipartisan support was the ability of the Republican majority to keep members of their caucus from attaching amendments not germane to its intent: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, wanted to attach language relating to illegal immigration, but was convinced by party leadership doing so would endanger a worthy bill.

Sen. Sullivan’s amendment was one of particular relevance to Alaska. It will allow states to pursue legal action against sex traffickers transporting victims across state lines when federal officials decline to prosecute. It’s an issue Sen. Sullivan encountered in a famous case during his tenure as the state’s attorney general in 2010.

At that time, the U.S. Justice Department announced it would not prosecute former Veco executive Bill Allen, who state and federal authorities had investigated for sex trafficking of minor girls. With federal authorities unwilling to act, Sullivan had no recourse at the state level because interstate sex trafficking was the sole jurisdiction of the federal government under the Mann Act.

Sen. Sullivan’s amendment would allow the U.S. Justice Department to hand such cases off to the states involved — and require them to explain why if they decline to do so.

There may not be many instances in which the state’s new power to prosecute such cases comes into effect. But it’s good for that option to be available, and even one case that could be pursued under the new authority would make Sen. Sullivan’s amendment worthwhile. Thanks to the U.S. Senate for an all-too-rare instance of bipartisan cooperation on a good bill, and especially to Sen. Sullivan for applying his experience as attorney general to implement a law change that could well make a difference for Alaska and other states.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

April 26

More in Opinion

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Alaska Voices: Restore our strong campaign donation limits

Without campaign spending limits, the ideal of one person, one vote is no longer really true.

The Final Redistricting Map approved for the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna area is seen on Nov. 9, 2021. (Map via akredistrict.org)
Alaska Voices: The Alaska Redistricting Board’s last-minute gerrymandering failed Alaska

Our Constitution outlines rules for a redistricting process designed to uphold public trust.