CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a bill on second reading during their Thursday, Feb. 13 floor session that would create new penalties for repeat human trafficking convictions.
House District 45 Representative Charles Pelkey proposed an amendment prior to the vote.
“What I am doing in this measure is asking you to consider removing the minimum penalties,” Pelkey said. “A mandatory minimum sentence essentially ties the courts’ hands.”
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House District 34 Representative Tim Salazar said he opposed the amendment.
“For all intents and purposes this guts the bill,” he said.
The House rejected Pelkey’s amendment. They’ll need to pass the bill on third reading for it to be sent to the House for consideration.
House District 44 Representative Sara Burlingame said on first reading that the bill “does something simple.” She explained that it would add penalties for adults convicted on human trafficking charges after having been previously convicted on similar charges.
The bill would impose a minimum 25-year prison sentence to adults who have multiple felony convictions of human trafficking.
The minimum 25-year prison sentence is already imposed when trafficking of minors leads to a conviction.
The proposed repeat offender rules would apply to anyone convicted of human trafficking after the age of 18.
Under Wyoming law “a person is guilty of human trafficking in the first degree when the person intentionally or knowingly recruits, transports, transfers, harbors, receives, provides, obtains, isolates, maintains or entices an individual” for the following purposes:
- Forced labor or servitude
- Sexual servitude
- Sexual servitude of a minor
Human trafficking is considered a second degree offense when “the person recklessly recruits, transports, transfers, harbors, receives, provides, obtains, isolates, maintains or entices an individual” for the above-named purposes.
First degree human trafficking can come with the following punishments for first time offenses:
- imprisonment for a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 50 years
- a minimum of 25 years in cases involving minors
- fines up to $10,000
Second degree human trafficking can come with the following penalties:
- imprisonment for a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 20 years
- fines up to $10,000
Both first and second degree human trafficking are considered felonies.
Further details of the proposed legislation is available online.
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