Wyoming has become the last state in the union to outlaw human trafficking, as Governor Matt Mead signed House Bill 133 into law yesterday.
Until now, the state relied on federal law enforcement to prosecute such cases.
The resolution makes human trafficking, either for forced labor or sexual servitude, a felony punishable by 50 years in prison or a $10,000 fine. Furthermore, the bill makes it a crime to solicit services from someone who has been trafficked, and protects victims from prosecution for crimes they may have committed related to their captivity.
The Casper Journal reports that while statistics regarding human trafficking in Wyoming are not widely available, victim advocates from at least 24 agencies in the state report to have worked with victims of human trafficking. During testimony in the House of Representatives, the legislature heard about two known cases of trafficking within the state within the last five years. One case, prosecuted by federal authorities in 2007, involved a 13-year-old girl who was sold as a prostitute in Jackson for three weeks.
Upon introduction, the bill was co-sponsored by local House Representative, Rosie Berger, and Senator, John Schiffer.