By: Savannah Scarborough, Writer / Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern
TRENTON, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation on January 29 amending the “Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act.” The Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act is primarily sponsored by Assemblymembers Thomas Giblin, Britney Timberlake, Annette Quijano, and Senators Tom Kean and Nicholas Scutari.
Last week’s amendment aims to direct the Commission on Human Trafficking to broaden its ongoing mission of implementing public awareness of human trafficking in New Jersey. To do this, Gov. Murphy wants to include awareness of victim remedies, services, and trafficking prevention in the form of public awareness signs. The Commission must develop this sign and determine the language on them. It must contain the national, 24-hour toll-free hotline telephone service on human trafficking operated pursuant to federal law.
“The trafficking hotline is one of the safest and most effective tools for victims to access emergency assistance,” said Assemblywoman Quijano.
The act requires the sign to be posted in places that are conspicuous and visible to the public’s employees and members. These specific establishments include strip clubs or sexually-oriented businesses, places of business of employers of massage or bodywork therapists, bars, hotels, motels, airports, rail and bus stations, truck stops, rest areas located along interstate highways, and all forms of public transportation, such as railroad and passenger cars.
If businesses or establishments chose not to comply with the bill’s requirements for posting signs would be given a civil penalty of $300 for their first offense and $1000 for each violation that follows.
“Equipping people with the information to safely connect and refer a potential trafficking victim to the appropriate resources is crucial,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake.
This act will help with the current human trafficking crisis and prevent future trafficking incidents . More individuals being knowledgeable on how to report potential incidents will do nothing but strengthen New Jersey’s efforts to combat human trafficking in its entirety.
“The more we raise awareness of human trafficking, including what it looks like, where it happens, and how to get help, the harder it will be for traffickers to get away with their despicable crimes,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean.
The human trafficking crisis is not only prevalent now, during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, it always has been, and it will continue to be a constant battle that New Jersey, and the entire county, will fight against.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.