A panel of experts whose responsibility is preparing Virginia for more uniform laws throughout the 50 states is not ready to sign off on proposed human trafficking legislation.
While one Commissioner for Promotion of Uniformity of Legislation believes the concept is great, he also says some tweaking is needed before the Commonwealth joins the other states that are ready right now.
The idea is for each state to draft similar legislation to deter and prosecute criminals more effectively, regardless of the state or where the crime is committed. Attorney Esson Miller says this is especially helpful with human trafficking, since it exists in one form or another nationwide. But he says the real hurdle is pulling various criminal laws together into one act.
"Because there are a lot of legislators in Virginia that feel like the provisions that are being criminalized in the human trafficking act are already covered in other bodies of law," said Miller.
On the other hand, advocates want a consolidation of various offenses to all be considered human trafficking.
"Whether it be rape, whether it be indentured servitude, whether it be larceny or other types of criminal activities."
Miller says consolidation could result in more serious criminal convictions for some that are currently considered lesser offenses. He says although it would likely take several years for the act to take effect in Virginia, the state has effective laws that can prevent human traffickers from running rampant in the Commonwealth.