Arizona state Republican lawmakers recently proposed new legislation that seeks lifetime prison sentences for individuals convicted of child sex trafficking crimes, the Epoch Times reported.
Last week, state Rep. Selina Bliss (R) and Senator Shawnna Bolick (R) introduced mirror bills, HCR 2042 and SCR 1021, which “seek to to strengthen punishment for child sex traffickers,” according to a news release from the Arizona House Republicans.
If passed, those convicted of child sex trafficking crimes could face “natural life” sentences without the opportunity for early release, including no eligibility for parole or commuting sentences “under any circumstances.”
“The resolution proposes amending the Arizona State Constitution to mandate a natural life sentence for individuals convicted of paying for sex with a minor, receiving payment for placing a minor in another person’s custody for sex with another person, or providing or obtaining a minor with intent that the minor engage in sex with another person, sending a clear message that such crimes will not be tolerated,” the press release read.
During a Thursday news conference at Arizona’s Capitol in Phoenix, Majority Leader Rep. Leo Biasiucci (R) called the mirror legislation “a huge win for the state of Arizona.”
“It’s important that we, as a state, take the lead on this because other states look at us. They try to follow us in many other categories. This one now has come to the forefront,” Biasiucci explained. “We want to make it very clear to everybody in the state, across the country: Our children are not for sale.”
“If you are involved in these heinous crimes, we are putting you away for a very long time. Because, in this bill, we’re throwing away the key,” he added.
The legislation would make Arizona the strictest state in the country for child sex crimes, Biasiucci explained.
Bliss, the prime sponsor of the bill, said during Thursday’s news conference, “Age 14, that’s the average age in Arizona that these abused children are forced into these acts. And we’re talking about boys and girls.”
“Our society must stand firmly against those who seek to harm the most vulnerable among us. Those who prey on the innocence of the young will face the full weight of the law,” Bliss stated.
Bolick blamed the “wide-open southern border and derelict government agencies” for an increase in child sex trafficking.
From March to October 2020, there was a 29% increase in child sex trafficking victims in Maricopa compared to the same period in 2019, the Maricopa County Child Sex Trafficking Collaborative reported.
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