Montana lawmakers confront prostitution in Bakken boomtowns

2013-03-25T05:45:00Z 2014-10-03T14:27:52Z Montana lawmakers confront prostitution in Bakken boomtownsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 25, 2013 5:45 am  • 

HELENA — Montana lawmakers are looking at ways to prevent and punish human trafficking in response to reports of increased prostitution in eastern Montana communities teeming with people who have come to find work in the Bakken oil boom.

There are four bills being considered this legislative session. So far, they have received widespread support in a male-dominated Legislature, said Sen. Elsie Arntzen, one bill sponsor.

"This was not a laughing matter. It was not a barroom look of how our Wild West used to be," Arntzen said. "This is something that my colleagues took serious. And that's incredible."

While some prostitution cases may hint at human trafficking, there is no actual proof that trafficking is a problem in Montana, said a second bill sponsor, Rep. Sarah Laszloffy, R-Laurel.

But without the language on the books to correctly identify cases as human trafficking, victims are left without access to help and authorities without the tools needed to track it, she said.

One concern is that law enforcement may be missing the signs and mistakenly charging victims of trafficking with prostitution, said a third sponsor, Rep. Jenifer Gursky, D-Missoula.

Human trafficking is a form of slavery that happens when a victim, either an adult or a child, is coerced, deceived or forced into labor — sometimes prostitution, sometimes other forced labor.

Montana is one of the "faltering four" states — along with Arkansas, South Dakota and Wyoming — that has not passed adequate legislation to assist victims and end the crime, according to Polaris, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group.

The group has identified 10 categories of law it says are critical to ending human trafficking. Montana already has laws in two of these categories, including broad human-trafficking and labor-trafficking statutes.

The proposals now being considered include a measure to seize a perpetrator's property, one to post a human-trafficking hotline in truck stops and a third that would allow victims to have a prostitution conviction vacated if they were wrongly charged.

The fourth bill would provide approximately $250,000 for training, counseling and education programs in communities affected by the oil boom.

Laszloffy's measure, House Bill 478, aims to prevent the trafficking of minors. Penalties for the trafficking of minors are steep in current law — up to 100 years in prison for the perpetrator — but Laszloffy proposes adding a property-seizure clause and changing the definition of a minor from 12 to 18 years old.

"We really wanted to focus on children and making that its own individual offense," Laszloffy said.

Rep. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, is also zeroing in on child sex trafficking in the eastern part of the state.

He says a bill in the works aimed at dealing with impacts of the Bakken boom, such as demands on infrastructure, is going to be modified to include $250,000 for human-trafficking education for parents and children in those communities. Ankney said the funds he expects to be included in House Bill 218 would also assist law enforcement training and counseling for victims of human trafficking.

It is to hit the House floor this week and Ankney said it's likely to pass.

But child sex trafficking is only part of the issue.

Other bill sponsors say their proposals would support adult victims, too, such as Gursky's House Bill 488 to post the number of a human trafficking hotline on truck-stop bathroom walls.

Senate Bill 259, sponsored by Arntzen, would give trafficked victims a clean slate by allowing a court to vacate a prostitution conviction if significant evidence of human trafficking is present, while making the records that led to that conviction confidential.

Victims must be allowed to move forward with their lives and find employment without having a prostitution charge show up on their background report, the Billings Republican said.

Arntzen is hopeful this Legislature will create proper legislation to advocate for victims of human trafficking, while creating a way for authorities to track trafficking in Montana.

Senate Bill 259 cleared the Senate and the House. House Bill 478 passed the House Floor, has been endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will now need the approval of the Senate floor. House Bill 488 passed the House is under consideration of the House Business and Labor Committee.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. jacksommersby88
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    jacksommersby88 - March 25, 2013 10:35 am
    I hope you're a libertarian and not a Republican, for the last 3 GOP presidents (that's Reagan and both Bushes) all grew government and left office with a record deficit, while the last Democratic president who left office, Clinton, shrunk government and left a considerable $300 billion surplus. And it's not just prostitution in these small oil-boom towns, but drug dealing and other crimes, which the police forces don't have the manpower to deal with all of this. Particularly hard-hit is Williston, ND, right across the border. Population of 15,000 and crime is rampant there now. And nearby Sidney is feeling the negative effects of this, too. What's needed is more money to hire more officers. And if you lived there, Walter, you'd be singing a totally different tone. You can always tell a Republican with their "as long as it's not affecting me, I don't care."
  2. Pistol
    Report Abuse
    Pistol - March 25, 2013 7:38 am
    Two points: First the headline is deceiving. The article is about trafficing more than prositution. Secondly how come prositution is illegal? Roe v Wade is based on the premise that the government has no right to interfere between a woman and her Doctor. If the government has no right over what a woman does with her body how can a government make it illegal for a woman to make a living off her body?
  3. MiddleFinger
    Report Abuse
    MiddleFinger - March 25, 2013 7:29 am
    This is worth taking a look at. But since "human resources" are part of our important economic recovery, we need to move carefully or we might lose business to other states that condone human trafficking. Those fine, upstanding oil and gas field workers require a steady supply of alcohol, cigarettes and of course, sex.

    What's the difference between human rights in the other countries from where we source oil and our own country?

    Apparently not much. Might as well act like it then.
  4. walter12
    Report Abuse
    walter12 - March 25, 2013 7:17 am
    People are so silly nowadays. We have massive black and Mexican gangs in the big cities, we have huge illegal drug problems, we have a Mexican invasion on the border, we have a nation that is in so much debt that we will never get out and our grandchildren will be paying for years, many big cities street are so dangerous that you cannot go there, and we are worried about a little prostitution in a boom town. There has always been prostitution in boom towns going back to the fourth millium BCE.
  5. Delbargo
    Report Abuse
    Delbargo - March 24, 2013 11:03 pm
    com·pla·cent, and Baited
  6. glacierdude
    Report Abuse
    glacierdude - March 24, 2013 4:49 pm
    Normajeana.....you say "men who are willing to pay for OUR sexual services". This leads me to wonder just exactly who you are and what you do for a living since you definitely take possession of the problem.

    I will have to say that, given the actions of many of the women I've known, I have been led to wonder if, in fact, it is not for sale anyhow.

    Personally, I think it should be legal and controlled and monitored just like gambling is.

    Go ahead, let me have it !! Let's get this discussion started.
  7. Lawman
    Report Abuse
    Lawman - March 24, 2013 1:19 pm
    Human trafficking is organized crime. To address organized criminal activity, law enforcement and prosecutors need appropriate tools to protect the public. Those tools include adequate legislation, funding and training. Many states and the federal government have specific racketeering or organized crime laws that provide many of those necessary tools.
    Montana laws need some work. Here is a useful link to research what other states have done: http://statelaws. findlaw.com/criminal-laws/racketeering/.

    Arizona and Texas have especially good organized crime laws. Arizona is recognized as a leader in the use of state organized crime laws. States that do not have useful laws often become dependent upon the federal government to investigate and prosecute crimes that can and should be addressed by state authorities.

    As it relates specifically to the referenced legislation, it would be prudent for the legislative sponsors to review their Bills for potential conflicts between the language in the proposed legislation related to victims and the 2012 voter-approved referendum, LR121, which denied victim assistance services to persons found to have unlawfully entered the United States.
  8. normajeana
    Report Abuse
    normajeana - March 24, 2013 12:30 pm
    All of this nonsense about alleged human trafficking (meaning 'sex trafficking') could be fixed by decriminalizing all consenting adult commercial sex (which constitutes the majority of prostitution). Despite the fact that the Polaris Project has a vested interest in inflating the estimates of victims, there really are very few actual sex trafficking victims, including 'child sex trafficking victims." This is nothing more than the prostitution abolitionists ideological agenda to 'eliminate all prostitution' which is NEVER going to happen. There are far too many adult sex workers who CHOOSE to do this work to earn a living, and there are far too many men who are willing to pay us for our sexual services.

    What all of this does is create a situation where sex workers are exploited by the COPS, and extorted for sex, money and information. When a sex worker is a victim of violence at the hands of a client, an employer (what you call a pimp) or a cop, they cannot go to the police and file a report because, unless we are willing to claim we are victims of prostitution and are "prostituted" women, we will be the ones arrested.

    While States Attorneys General prance and posture about "50 cases of child sex trafficking found on backpage.com in 22 states over three years" the US Government says that there are nearly 90,000 cases of child sexual exploitation at the hands of someone whom the child knows and trusts- like parents, preachers, priests, rabbis, teachers, babysitters, boy scout leaders and even cops. To see the list of pedophile cops/ FBI agents and other government perverts, see http://www.policeprostitutionandpolitics.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=100:pedophile-and-child-porn-cops-all-years&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=50

    And according to http://womensissues.about.com/od/girlsteensyoungwomen/a/10-Facts-About-Child-Sexual-Abuse-Statistics.htm
    "Despite what children are taught about "stranger danger," most child victims are abused by someone they know and trust. When the abuser is not a family member, the victim is more often a boy than a girl. The results of a three-state study of reported rape survivors under age 12 revealed the following about offenders:

    * 96% were known to their victims
    * 50% were acquaintances or friends
    * 20% were fathers
    * 16% were relatives
    * 4% were strangers [these strangers would be the ones seeking to purchase the sexual services of children, while the 96% are NOT those seeking to pay for sex with children...]

    Of course, none of this generates income for the prostitution abolitionist organizations which rely on the ever growing hysteria about 'child sex trafficking' for their million dollar+ donations from the public and the government grants.

    In a three day investigation in 2012 (June 20 to June 23) the federal government in conjunction with 2,500 state and local law enforcement agents, spending millions of dollars managed to rescue and arrest the following:
    * 2,500 state, local, and federal officers in
    * 57 cities US cities RESULTING IN:
    * 79 children "rescued" [under age 18]
    * 104 alleged pimps arrested
    Really? All that money spent - shouldn't they have found MORE than 79 children- most of whom were 17, if, in fact, there was a national crisis?

    In previous years, they also conducted raids and found the following:
    * 69 Children Rescued, 885 Arrests in Operation Cross Country V 2011 (40 cities)= 954 total arrests / 23 arrests per city total and 1.7 minors arrested per city
    * 50 Children Rescued, 700 Arrests in Operation Cross Country IV 2010 (36 cities)= 750 total arrests/ 20.83 arrests per city total and 1.3 minors arrested per city
    * 48 Children Rescued, 571 Arrests in Operation Cross Country III 2009 (29 cities)= 619 total arrests 21 arrests per city total including adults/ 1.6 minors arrested per city
    * 47 Children Rescued, 642 Arrests in Operation Cross Country II 2008 (29 cities)= 689 total arrests 23.75 arrests per city including adults/ 1.6 minors per city arrested
    * 21 Children Rescued, 389 Arrests in Operation Cross Country I 2008? (16 cities) = 410 total arrests 25.6 arrests per city 1.3 minors per city http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/cac/innocencelost

    If one child victim of sex trafficking is too many, why are the 90,000 child victims of someone they know and trust not enough for legislators to care about? Why is nothing done to stop the law enforcement agents from engaging in sex with minors? In 2011, I found 152 cases of pedophile/ porn possessing cops... and in 2012, 191 of them. And I don't find nearly all there are because it would be a full time job to do so. You can visit the National Police Misconduct website and see their 2010 report, http://www.policemisconduct.net/statistics/2010-annual-report/ which notes "Sexual misconduct was the second most common form of misconduct reported throughout 2010 with 618 officers involved in sexual misconduct complaints during that period, 354 of which were involved in complaints that involved forcible non-consensual sexual activity such as sexual assault or sexual battery.

    Of the officers associated with reports of serious sexual misconduct, 51% (180) were involved with reports that involved minors and 49% (174) involved adults. However, of the 479 alleged victims of serious sexual misconduct which were tracked, 52% (249) were minors and 48% (230) were adults. This would appear to indicate that minors are victims of alleged serial offenders slightly more often than adults."

    What are your legislators doing about this child sexual exploitation?

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