COLUMBUS –State Representatives Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) announced new legislation today that will allow prosecutors to directly pursue legal action against offenders who use drugs and addiction to compel their victims into prostitution (ORC 2907.21) or trafficking (ORC 2905.32). The bill expands the definition of “compel” under both statutes, to include “controlled substance” and “manipulation of a controlled substance addiction.”
“Ohio is ranked fifth in the nation for human trafficking reports, with more than 70% of victims struggling with a substance abuse disorder,” said White. “Our hope is that by expanding the Ohio Revised Code definition of ‘compel’ to cover drugs and addiction, law enforcement will be better equipped to protect more victims and target more traffickers for prosecution.”
While current ORC provides for alternatives for the definition of ‘compel’ to include force, fear, duress, intimidation and fraud, drugs and addiction do not neatly fit into these categories. Expanding the definition of ‘compel’ to include “controlled substance” and “manipulation of a controlled substance addiction” as forms of control and force in the ORC will officially recognize this tactic used to control victims and allow for increased prosecution of traffickers.
“Addiction and withdrawal are incredibly powerful weapons that traffickers regularly use to ‘compel’ victims to comply with their demands,” said Manchester. “This legislation is a step in the right direction towards helping to stop human trafficking in Ohio.”
White noted that, in 2020 alone, law enforcement reported 216 human trafficking investigations leading to 76 arrests and 18 successful criminal convictions, according to an Ohio Attorney General’s report. Moreover, there were more than 140 members of our communities identified as potential victims of labor or sex trafficking in Ohio, White said.
“Human trafficking is a problem we’re seeing right here in our own back yards,” said White. “We need to fight for these victims and fight for the safety of all Ohioans.”