Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015
Enacted May 29, 2015
Purpose: To provide justice for the victims of trafficking through grants to States for child abuse investigation and prosecution programs, services for victims of child pornography, and domestic child human trafficking deterrence programs. The act also authorized specialized training programs for law enforcement officers, first responders, health-care and child welfare officials, juvenile justice personnel, prosecutors, and judicial personnel to identify victims and acts of child human trafficking and to facilitate the rescue of child victims of human trafficking.
Note: The Children's Bureau offers guidance on the provisions of this legislation in Information Memorandum ACYF-CB-IM-15-05, issued July 16, 2015.
Major Provisions of the Act
- Amended the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require that a State's plan for its child protective services system include an assurance that the State has in effect and is enforcing a law requiring:
- Identification and assessment of all reports involving children known or suspected to be victims of sex trafficking
- Training child protective services workers in identifying, assessing, and providing comprehensive services for children who are sex trafficking victims
- Required each State receiving a grant to submit an annual data report that includes the number of children determined to be victims of sex trafficking.
- Provided that a child is considered to be a victim of 'child abuse and neglect' and of 'sexual abuse' if the child is identified by a State or local agency as being a victim of sex trafficking or a victim of severe forms of trafficking in persons.
- Gave States the option to define 'child' as a person who has not reached age 24.
- Authorized a program of 3-year renewable block grants administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop, improve, or expand domestic child human trafficking deterrence programs that assist law enforcement and other entities in rescuing and restoring the lives of trafficking victims, while investigating and prosecuting offenses involving child human trafficking. Grant funds may be used for:
- Specialized training programs for law enforcement officers, first responders, health-care and child welfare officials, juvenile justice personnel, prosecutors, and judicial personnel to identify victims and acts of child human trafficking and to facilitate the rescue of child victims of human trafficking
- Anti-trafficking law enforcement units and task forces to investigate child human trafficking offenses and to rescue victims
- Problem-solving court programs for trafficking victims
- Expanded the Federal definition of 'child abuse' to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography.
- Required the DOJ to ensure that:
- All task forces within the Innocence Lost National Initiative engage in activities, programs, or operations to increase the investigative capabilities of law enforcement officers in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting persons who patronize or solicit children for sex
- All components and task forces with jurisdiction to detect, investigate, and prosecute cases of child labor trafficking engage in activities, programs, or operations to increase the capacity of such components to deter and punish child labor trafficking
- Amended the Crime Control Act of 1990 to:
- Require State reports on missing children to include a recent photograph of the missing child (if available)
- Reduce the period for verifying and updating records on missing children in a State law enforcement system and in National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer networks from 60 to 30 days
- Require notification to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of each report received of a child reported missing from foster care or a child care institution
- Permit NCIC to update its missing person record with additional information obtained from investigations
- Required the DOJ to make a database with information on counseling and hotline resources, housing resources, legal assistance, and other services for trafficking survivors, trafficking victim advocates, crisis hotline personnel, foster parents, and law enforcement personnel available on the website of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
- Extended the statute of limitations for civil actions against perpetrators of human trafficking offenses until 10 years after the victim reaches age 18.
- Amended the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to include within criteria for awarding grants for services to runaway and homeless youth whether such youth have been subject to severe forms of trafficking in persons or sex trafficking.
- Required training for Federal government personnel related to trafficking in persons to include a distance-learning course on trafficking-in-persons issues and the Department of State's obligations under the act, designed for embassy reporting officers, regional bureaus' trafficking-in-persons coordinators, and their superiors.
- Authorized the DOJ to give preferential consideration in awarding public safety and community-oriented policing grants to a State that has in effect a law that:
- Treats a minor who has engaged in a commercial sex act as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons
- Discourages or prohibits charging or prosecuting that minor for a prostitution or sex trafficking offense based on such conduct
- Encourages the diversion of such minor to appropriate service providers, including child welfare services, victim treatment programs, child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers, or other social services.
- Required the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), annually beginning in FY2017, to make grants for a national communication system to assist victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons to communicate with service providers.
- Required the Health Resources and Services Administration of DHHS to award a grant to an accredited school of medicine or nursing with experience in the study or treatment of victims of a severe form of trafficking to train health-care professionals to recognize and respond to trafficking victims. Required grantees to:
- Develop evidence-based best practices for health-care professionals to recognize and respond to victims of trafficking
- Implement a pilot program to test the best practices and educational material developed for health-care professionals
- Analyze and report on the pilot program