TOPEKA, Kansas — A Kansas assistant attorney general is urging state lawmakers to require mandatory $2,500 fines against anyone convicted of paying for sex, even if they receive diversion.
Pat Colloton testified Monday before a House committee that a state fund to help human trafficking victims is in danger of becoming insolvent because many people convicted of patronizing prostitutes are let off with a diversion and not fined. The fines are used to fund the Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund.
Colloton is a former state representative who was a key backer of human trafficking laws passed by the Legislature last year.
The bill would require the fines and also prevent offenders from getting a second diversion if they are convicted of the crime twice. Local courts also would be required to report all convictions and diversions for patronizing prostitutes to a Kansas Bureau of Investigation database, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1iWKNYJ ).
"This fund is to be used to coordinate training for law enforcement and to provide services to victims," Colloton said. "A review of court records shows that diversions are being granted to those who buy sex and so, under current law, no mandatory fine is required and therefore none is deposited in the Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund."
Liz Dickinson, a lobbyist for the Kansas National Organization for Women, said the state should not only crack down on those who use women in the sex trade but also support women as they move out of that life.
"Girls who are trafficked are more likely to have already been abused and are more likely to fall into abusive relationships later on in life," Dickinson said. "It is crucial to fund programs that help to treat and combat the damages done by the trauma of human trafficking and abuse."
Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, said the committee likely will vote on the bill Wednesday.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com