(SACRAMENTO) - Today, Assemblymember Patrick O'Donnell (D - Long Beach) introduced AB 1771 to combat the commercial sex trade, which has increasingly become a source of illicit income for criminal organizations.
The bill makes a gang member's membership admissible evidence in cases of supervising a prostitute. The bill will also increase the maximum penalty for the misdemeanor crime of supervising a prostitute from six months to a year. Assemblymember O'Donnell is partnering with the Long Beach City Prosecutor's Office on the bill.
"Many think of human trafficking as a crime committed overseas, far removed from our own world experience," said Assemblymember O'Donnell. "In fact, children and mentally scarred victims of abuse are forced into the sex trade by violent gangs operating right here in our community."
Long Beach has been at the center of several successful prosecutions involving human trafficking, but state law has yet to catch up to the growing connection between gangs and human trafficking. Jerome Hubbard, a member of the notorious Crips gang in Long Beach, was convicted last year for supervising a prostitute, and in his words "pimping on these hoes." Although some misdemeanors carry up to one year in jail, the maximum punishment for supervising a prostitute is only six months. AB 1771 seeks to arm prosecutors with the necessary tools required to hold gang members like Hubbard more accountable for his crime.
"The most callous criminals involved in organized crime see sex trafficking as more profitable and lower risk than traditional illicit enterprises," said Long Beach City Prosecutor, Doug Haubert. "A gang member can only sell a gun or drugs once before they need to replenish their supply. Through a steady routine of physical and mental intimidation, however, that same gang member is able to sell a person over and over again. I commend Assemblymember O'Donnell for working to curb this repulsive criminal behavior."
The bill now awaits referral to its first policy committee.
Assemblymember Patrick O'Donnell represents the 70th Assembly District, which includes Long Beach, Signal Hill, San Pedro and Catalina Island.