SACRAMENTO–California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) won Assembly approval of her bill to help victims of human trafficking rebuild their lives.
The bill would make it easier for these victims to receive compensation for any income they lost while working in jobs comparable to modern-day slavery. The bill, which was passed by a vote of 72-0, now heads to the state Senate.
“Human-trafficking victims deserve to be treated like any other victims, including being compensated for loss of income,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “This bill is a just and fair way to help trafficked victims get back on their feet and get the help they need.”
More than a quarter of all federal human-trafficking cases are based in California. Most victims are forced to work as prostitutes or in agricultural, domestic-service, sweatshop or factory jobs.
AB 900 would explicitly authorize the California Victim Compensation Board to provide these victims with compensation for any income they lost as a result of being trafficked. The board’s current rules make it difficult for these victims to collect lost income because the board requires formal documentation of a victim’s previous employment, such as a W-2 form. Most victims of human trafficking don’t have this kind of documentation.
AB 900 would cap a victim’s total loss of income at $10,000 a year for two years. The calculation for lost income would be based on minimum wage. These victims are currently eligible to collect certain expenses related to medical and mental-health services and relocation costs, under the board’s guidelines.