Washington, D.C. — The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) wrote a letter to the American Law Institute (ALI) urging them to reject proposed changes to Section 213 of the Model Penal Code (MPC) that would weaken the ability of states to prosecute sexual assault, abuse, exploitation, and trafficking crimes; jeopardize the safety of victims of these crimes; and restrict the ability of law enforcement to protect the general public from recidivist behavior.
The proposed changes being considered by the ALI would weaken laws against human trafficking and sexual abuse, assault, and exploitation. The changes to the MPC regarding sex trafficking deviate from most state laws and federal statutes while disregarding the effect such changes would have on sex trafficking victims. The modifications would also relax the sex offender registry, posing a greater risk to the public, especially children.
“As attorneys general, we urge the ALI to consider the danger the proposed changes would pose to the public, especially children, and abandon its plans to amend this article of the Model Penal Code …,” wrote the bipartisan coalition of 37 attorneys general. “The revisions contemplated fail to treat sex predators appropriately and would provide them more freedom to commit these heinous crimes, putting the citizens we represent at greater risk of becoming victims.”
Among the changes being considered by the ALI:
Regarding Sex Trafficking:
- Removes “advertising” and “obtains” as predicate acts that can be used to establish trafficking.
- Excludes criminal liability for those who knowingly benefit from their participation in sex trafficking.
- Requires Government prove buyer knew, but recklessly disregarded, fact that victim was under 18 years old.
- Mandates identifying a trafficker to establish crime of child sex trafficking has occurred.
- Excludes criminal liability for sex trafficking for buyers of commercial sex with minors.
Regarding Sex Offender Registries:
- Removes some crimes as offenses that require registration.
- Would permit only government law enforcement agencies to access registry information – there would be no public access and no access by non-profit organizations for prospective employees/applicants.
- Removes key identifiers from registry requirements.
- Offenses of sexual assault by physical force or sexual assault of an incapacitated person are not registrable – offenders are required to register only if the offender was previously convicted of a felony sexual offense.
- Registration for sexual assault of a minor is limited to crimes where the victim is less than 12 years old and the offender is 21 years old or older.
- Registration for incestuous sexual assault of a minor is limited to crimes where the victim is under the age of 16 years old.
- Renders failure to register a misdemeanor.
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