State Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Increase Solicitation Penalties
Say ending opioid crisis begins with targeting those who exploit addiction
February 22, 2018
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State Reps. Adam C. Miller (D-Columbus) and Jim Hughes (R-Upper Arlington) today introduced legislation to increase penalties for those convicted of solicitation from a third to a first-degree misdemeanor. As Ohio’s opioid crisis has worsened in recent years, the number of prostitution-related arrests has increased by more than 30 percent across the state.

“While we need to redouble our efforts to prevent and treat opioid addiction, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to those who exploit victims of our worst-in-the-nation opioid crisis,” said Rep. Miller. “By cracking down on solicitation, we can begin to break the cycle of opioid addiction and reclaim our communities.”

A study by the Polaris Project determined that more than two-thirds of human trafficking survivors addicted to opioids were already addicted before they fell victim to human trafficking. According to human trafficking experts, for many survivors, prostitution begins as a means to fuel ongoing addiction.

“This legislation aims to break the cycle of opioid addiction and prostitution by targeting the demand side of the equation,” said Rep. Hughes. “As a state, we need to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate the exploitation of victims of human trafficking.”

If enacted, the bill would make the crime of solicitation a first-degree misdemeanor, increase fines and allow judges designate up to half of the fine to benefit Ohio’s Victims of Human Trafficking Fund. The fund goes to treating, caring for, rehabilitating, educating, housing and providing assistance for survivors of human trafficking.

The bill is currently awaiting introduction into the House, where it will receive a bill number and be assigned to a committee for its initial hearings.

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