Gov. Brian Kemp signed a trio of bills into law on Thursday that aim to crack down on sex trafficking in Georgia.
The first measure, House Bill 281, increases penalties for those convicted of pimping or pandering. A first offense would increase jail time from 24 hours to three days, a second offense would now be a felony and allow a judge to sentence up to 10 years in prison upon a conviction.
A second, Senate Bill 158, gives the state new powers to provide emergency care for a child victim of human trafficking without a court order or the consent of a parent or legal guardian, and bars authorities from prosecuting them for prostitution if they are under 18 years old.
And the third, House Bill 424, broadens the definition of criminal gang activity to include sex trafficking, giving authorities new powers to seek penalties.
The measures are part of a new approach to criminal justice under Kemp who said they will “protect the vulnerable from harm, hold bad actors accountable and equip community leaders” with more resources.
After years of initiatives that reduced prison sentences for nonviolent offenders pushed by Gov. Nathan Deal, Kemp has put new efforts to punish sex traffickers and gang members at the center of his agenda.