2016 Election: Safe Harbor Amendment

Tomorrow Georgians will vote on whether or not to establish a “Safe Harbor”, a special tax penalty against convicted sex traffickers and the adult entertainment industry to provide support services for child victims of sex trafficking.

Every month in Georgia, hundreds of Georgia's children are trafficked and exploited. Cases have been reported in at least 90 counties, covering nearly 60% of the state. The average age of a child victim of sex trafficking is only 13, and they can be as young as 9. By adding the Safe Harbor fund to the state constitution, funds will be permanently protected and used solely for the purposes of providing restorative services to child victims. This ballot question was approved by 85% of the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year.

The Safe Harbor Fund could provide approximately $2 million used to provide mental health care, child care, job training, legal help, and housing to the victims. Faith-based organizations, nonprofits, and agencies that provide services to child victims of sex trafficking will be able to apply for funds. If this amendment passes, Georgia’s General Assembly and Governor will appoint a new commission to oversee and create guidelines for the distribution of funds to ensure that they are used appropriately.

Georgia voters will be asked:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?

A “yes” vote supports providing tax penalties against people convicted of certain sex crimes in order to allocate revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.

A “no” vote opposes providing these tax penalties against people convicted of certain sex crimes in order to allocate revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.

Background

Amendment 2 would establish a new “Safe Harbor” for the Sexually Exploited Children Fund by:

(1) $2,500 fines imposed on people convicted of sex trafficking, or

(2) $5,000 fine or 1% of annual gross revenue on adult entertainment establishments, particularly those that serve alcohol and provide nudity-involved entertainment.

Pros:

  • If approved, a source of funding will be established solely for services supporting victims of human trafficking.

  • Georgia Legislators may not divert or redirect funding for any other purposes.

Organizations supporting Amendment 2:

  • Georgia Catholic Conference
  • Georgia NAACP
  • SafeHarborYes
  • Partners of SafeHarborYes
    • Interfaith Children's Movement
    • International Human Trafficking Institute
    • Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Greater Atlanta
    • Center for Civil and Human Rights
    • CommunityBuild Ventures
    • End Human Trafficking Now
    • Freedom Coalition
    • Georgia Cares
    • Georgia Academy of Family Physicians
    • Georgia Cares
    • The Junior League of Atlanta
    • Wellspring Living
    • She is Safe
    • StreetGrace
    • United Way of Greater Atlanta
    • Voices for Georgia's Children
    • Youthspark
    • YWCA
    • Covenant House Georgia
    • Georgia Family Connection Partnership
    • Outdoor Advertising Association of America

Officials Supporting Amendment 2

  • Representative Stacy Abrams
  • Senator Renee Unterman
  • Senator Butch Miller
  • Senator Judson Hill
  • Senator Gloria Butler

Supporting Arguments

 

Senator Renee Unterman stated in a press release:

This has been a long four-year journey of advocacy, education, and sincere determination of explaining to Georgia citizens exactly what is happening to vulnerable children in the child sex trafficking trade. Georgia is a state that deeply cares about the children who are being sold for a profit in the sex trade industry, and this legislation is meant to send a clear message that we do not tolerate these actions and believe in severe punishments for profiteers.

Cons

Opponents are concerned that the amendment creates a punitive tax on adult entertainment establishments, which they argue do not necessarily cause sex trafficking.

There is no formal opposition to Amendment 2 at this time, but opponents to this amendment argue that adult entertainment venues are unrelated to child sex trafficking and therefore should not be penalized with an additional tax.

Officials Against Amendment 2:

(As indicated by their vote against this resolution during its last reading in the Georgia General Assembly)