Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has signed Senate Enrolled Act 4, which more clearly defines human trafficking and strengthens penalties for that crime. The new law is effective immediately.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller recommended last year that legislators pass the new law before Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, due to concerns that large sporting events tend to be magnets for organized crime rings that promote prostitution. The legislation passed the Indiana House by a vote of 93-0 after passing the Senate 48-0.
Previously, under Indiana law, solicitation of a minor was a crime, but Zoeller said a loophole in the law failed to separately address people who profit from the sale of sex with minors.
Before the legislative session began, the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission fine-tuned the bill, which was authored by Republican senators Randy Head, of Logansport, Jim Banks, of Columbia City, and Greg Walker, of Columbus.
“The message we send today is ‘don’t try it here.’ Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis is where this practice ends,” said Daniels. “Thanks to Senator Head and Attorney General Zoeller and those who brought this problem to our attention so we could act to give law enforcement officials the tools they need.”
The law mandates a Class B felony for anyone who knowingly or intentionally recruits, harbors or transports a child younger than age 16 for the purpose of coerced labor or prostitution.
According to the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking, it is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 men, women and children are trafficked illegally into the United States each year.
“Though it is an honor for Indiana to host the Super Bowl, many sincere voices have brought to light the fact that human trafficking is a shameful practice we can’t ignore. With the Governor’s signature, law enforcement and prosecutors will have a new legal tool to combat this problem,” Zoeller said.