Governor Abbott’s Plan to Combat Sex and Human Trafficking

In 2018, Governor Greg Abbott announced an important proposal with the goal of protecting people from human traffickers and addressing sexual misconduct allegations throughout Texas’ state government.

The proposal, called Preventing Crime, Protecting Texans, Punishing Criminals (the three P’s), allocates $22 million to the state’s Department of Public Safety. The department is mandated to create regional teams to investigate cases involving human trafficking and train local law enforcement agents.

Governor Abbott also announced that he wants to add $14 million to the next state two-year budget plan to purchase sexual assault evidence kits.

In this post, we discuss Governor Abbott’s plan to combat sex and human trafficking crimes and what this proposal might mean to you or someone you care about.

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Texas State Government’s First Responsibility: Safety

Governor Abbott says that the state government’s first responsibility is to protect citizens. The state is obligated to defend individual freedoms and to deliver justice when individuals’ rights are violated.

He said that “sexual predators in our state are robbing innocent Texans of their most basic rights.” The new proposal seeks to protect survivors, punish offenders, and prevent more sex and human trafficking crimes from happening.

The bottom line goal of Governor Abbott’s plan is to “root out sexual predators” in Texas. Thirteen specific recommendations in the governor’s proposal include:

Increase Funding for the Texas Department of Public Safety

In order to implement Governor Abbott’s proposal to identify and try criminals involved in the sex trade, Governor Abbott’s wants to increase funding to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The funds are earmarked for the creation of human trafficking squads or investigative teams throughout Texas.

Sex Trade and Human Trafficking Offenders Must Receive More Stringent Penalties

In addition, Governor Abbott wants to impose stronger penalties from pimps and managers who promote prostitution in Texas.

He believes that current laws are the equivalent of a “slap on the wrist.” Many first-time offenders receive probation, community service and fines.

Governor Abbott wants to put those who promote prostitution behind bars for significant periods. He also wants require these offenders to register as sex offenders.

Conversely, the proposal recommends increasing those convicted of prostitution to clear their names if forced or compelled to commit a crime.

Survivors of Sexual Assault and Rape

The governor wants to help more sexual assault and rape survivors. He reports that approximately 15,000 rape/sexual assault evidence kits remain untested. Adding $14 million in funds is intended to eliminate the backlog of evidence. The Governor’s Office will dedicate $1 million in funds to the Department of Public Safety so that they, with assistance from the University of North Texas, clear the evidence backlog.

Specific Recommendations of Governor Abbott’s 3Ps Plan

The governor’s proposal recommends:

  • Making it a criminal offense for the sex offender to share a car with a non-family member minor
  • Increasing penalties associated with the kidnapping of a child
  • Increasing penalties associated with a sexual performance of a minor and/or possession/promotion of child pornography offenses
  • Banning minors from entering a sexually-oriented business
  • Raising the minimum age needed to work for a sexually-oriented business (from 18 years old to 21 years old)
  • Requiring all employees of the state to receive trainings involving sex and human trafficking prevention
  • Allowing judges to require certain human traffickers, repeat sex offenders, and/or other high-risk domestic abuse defendants to enter the GPS monitoring initiative.
  • Targeting sexual assaults on Texas university campuses, e.g. the sexual assault allegations made at Baylor University in Waco concerning members of the football team.
  • Creating a do-not-hire registry of teachers and/or other adults who must not be employed at schools because of 1) prior unlawful acts with a minor and/or 2) inappropriate teacher-student involvements.

Recommended Child Sex Trafficking Squad

Governor Abbot wants the state to do more for child sex trafficking victims.

To this end, the 84th Legislature passed House Bill 10 (H.B. 10) and House Bill 1446 (H.B. 1446) in the Texas Government Code §§ 772.0062 – 772.0063. This establishes Governor Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) in the Criminal Justice Division.

The strategies and goals of CSTT address the needs of approximately 79,000 youth and child sex trafficking victims in Texas. The vision of CSTT is to protect all children from sexual exploitation by preventing victimization, identifying/recovering survivors, coordinating healing and thriving services while bringing victims justice.

In 2017,  The Texas Tribune explored the state’s exceptionally under-funded system of child welfare and state policies involving victims of child sex trafficking.

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State Government Isn’t Immune to Sexual Misconduct Problems

Governor Abbott wants to direct the Texas Rangers’ Public Integrity Unit to investigate sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations in the state government. He argues that involving the Texas Rangers will fairly and thoroughly investigate outstanding sexual misconduct claims throughout the state government.

He hopes to ensure the fair, thorough investigation of all allegations made against the state’s employees and elected officials, allowing more victims to come forward without concerns of retaliation or retribution from this select group.

For many years, harassment claims made to members of the Texas House and Senate were managed by officials with little authority or incentives to enforce existing policies—especially in those cases alleging harassment by a lawmaker.

More recently, experts and legislators have argued for the creation of an impartial body to consider these complaints.

Last year, state media reported that victims faced antiquated sexual harassment policies that provide few protections from those facing unwanted sexual advances, degrading comments, or groping at the Texas Capitol.

News outlets stimulated a flurry of calls to state leaders, demanding the state to better address these issues.

Governor Abbott’s proposal directly addresses these concerns.

The new proposal recommends permitting individuals to report claims made against state agency directors, boards, workers, legislators, and other elected and judicial officials. The proposal recommends allocating $1.9 million to this effort.

What Governor Abbott’s Plan to Combat Sex and Trafficking Could Mean to You

If you’re facing a solicitation of prostitution, sexual assault, or human trafficking charge, it’s clear that you or someone you love might face more stringent punishments if convicted in Texas.

Governor Abbott has vowed to “combat human trafficking and prostitution, help sexual assault survivors, and crack down on sexual harassment.”

He wants to “punish the perpetrators…by sending a clear message that these despicable acts will not be tolerated…in Texas.”

Governor Abbott’s vision is “to build a stronger, more secure future for our great state.”

The #metoo movement remains in the headlines. More sexual assault and/or intimidation cases are entering the courts. Public opinion appears more motivated to punish alleged offenders. If convicted, offenders are likely to face more jail time and significant fines in Texas.

For these and many others reasons, it’s imperative that you consult with an experienced Texas sex crimes attorney if you’re facing any type of sex crime charges. Don’t face this alone.

Contact The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp in Houston at 713-868-6200 now. He will protect your legal rights.

Contact Matthew Sharp