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March 19, 2013

Although the Division of Criminal Justice has reported just 179 cases of sex and labor trafficking in New Jersey during the past seven years, many say there are actually thousands of cases each year across the state.

New Jersey legislators expects the 2014 Super Bowl at Giants Stadium to create an even greater increase in sex trafficking next year, since other states have shown a sharp gain in human trafficking leading up to Super Bowl events, according to Peter Barnes III (D-Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Nationally, the estimates are that 50,000 men, women, and children are trafficked into the country every year, in addition to at least 100,000 victims who are already being exploited for prostitution, labor, and drug activity.

Both houses of the Legislature unanimously approved a bill Monday that would broaden the definition and penalties for human trafficking in New Jersey. The bill (S-2239/A-3352) would create a 15-member Commission on Human Trafficking made up of state agency officials, law enforcement, prosecutors, and social-services advocates to review current law and assistance programs and recommend changes.

The bill also expands the definition of human trafficking to include actions involving abduction, fraud, deceit, or other abuses of power as a means of accomplishing human trafficking.

A minimum $25,000 fine would be imposed as a penalty for the crime, which will be deposited in a newly formed Human Trafficking Survivor's Assistance Fund.

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