On June 17, 2021, Representative Hartzler of Missouri and Representative Bass of California reintroduced H.R. 3996, the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Act. This simple act amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to authorize the use of Byrne JAG funds for programs combatting human trafficking that include demand reduction (reducing sex buying behavior). It has passed the House with strong bipartisan support before but did not get signed into law. This reintroduction is an opportunity to make that happen.
This is powerful. Not only are Byrne Justice Assistance Grants the leading source of justice funding to state and local jurisdictions, but this bill also acknowledges the key role that demand plays in creating and perpetuating sex trafficking/prostitution. By earmarking this funding towards demand reduction programs, Representatives Hartzler and Bass are making it clear that reducing sex buying is a vital and effective way to combat trafficking.
The research on demand reduction is both substantial and conclusive, when sex buying (demand) is targeted, sex trafficking/prostitution dwindles. Because prostitution and sex trafficking lead to lifelong physical and psychological trauma for those prostituted, as well as many other public health harms and related crimes, targeting the sex buyers is the most effective way to use law enforcement resources to make a lasting change. Put simply, no buyers = no business.
Importantly, targeting demand reduction at the national level sets the tone for all the states to focus on demand reduction. We strongly support this bill and encourage you to, as well.