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Child trafficking will not have harsher penalties in California

Child trafficking will not have the harsh penalties of a serious penalty in California, thanks to a refusal from a key Assembly committee.

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Child trafficking will not have harsher penalties in California

This week, a key California Assembly committee blocked a bill that would have enhanced penalties for child trafficking.

Child trafficking would have become a serious felony

Senate Bill 14 would have redefined child trafficking (literally, trafficking of a minor) as a “serious felony.” It would amended Section 1192.7 of the California Penal Code to forbid plea bargaining in child trafficking cases, and to mandate “Three Strikes” sentencing of persons convicted of that offense. This bill had passed the California Senate with bipartisan, indeed unanimous, support, according to KCRA-TV (Channel 3, NBC, Sacramento).

But in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, Chairman Reggie Jones-Sawyer unaccountably opposed the bill. The other five Democrats all voted against it – because to support it in the face of the chair’s opposition would constitute “rolling the chair.” Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) explained that to Civil Deadline. Apparently, what the chair says, goes, and no one in his party may vote against him.

Members of the audience lost their tempers when the bill went down to defeat, 6-2. “You’re horrible!” cried one. “You should be ashamed of yourselves!” cried another.

Senator Grove explained to Channel 3 that she tried three times to contact Asm. Jones-Sawyer on his cellphone, without result. Her staff tried another six or seven times.

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This latest action is consistent with other refusals to increase penalties for violent sex crimes and domestic violence offenses. But it is inconsistent with the broader Democratic position on offenses against non-whites. The bill’s findings, in addition to repeating grim statistics on child trafficking and other human trafficking, also recognized Native American women and girls as especial targets.

A study in unwelcome contrasts

Under Jones-Sawyer’s leadership, this same committee also refused to hear testimony on bills related to fentanyl smuggling.

Senator Grove made this statement to the press, according to Channel 3:

I am profoundly disappointed that committee Democrats couldn’t bring themselves to support the bill, with their stubborn and misguided objection to any penalty increase regardless of how heinous the crime. You can pass a note to a bank and rob a bank, you can commit arson, and that’s considered a serious felony. But to traffic a minor child in the state of California is not. That’s wrong.

The extent of the chairman’s adamancy remained unclear. Channel 3 reported that Jones-Sawyer promised to “work with” Senator Grove on another version of the legislation.

How is The Sound of Freedom doing?

In other child trafficking related news, The Sound of Freedom continues its top-ten box-office ranking, often ranking No. 1. This film tells the true story of former Special Agent Tim Ballard of Homeland Security Investigations. It tells of a massive “sting” operation he ran in Columbia (which reportedly was more massive than the movie depicts) and also highlights a network for child trafficking involving “high roller” clients worldwide.

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The movie has held its No. 1 or top-ten position, despite widespread reports that managers of theaters belonging to the American Multi-Cinema chain have deliberately sabotaged their own screenings of the film. Reports have reached several influencers of air conditioners turned off, lights left bright, and false-alarm evacuations mid-showing. The theaters refunded tickets in many such cases, but moviegoers still found the circumstances strange.

Nevertheless Box Office Mojo reported that The Sound of Freedom came in at No. 1 in Tuesday’s daily box office. Ticket sales on July 11 exceeded $3.8 million. Thus far the movie has grossed nearly $49.5 million in domestic sales – and has not yet had an international release. The site Screen Rant estimated the film’s budget at $14.5 million. Angel Studios raised another $5 million by “equity crowdfunding” for marketing and distribution. Even so, assuming exhibitors retain an average of 50 percent of a ticket sale, the movie has almost certainly recouped the entire combined budget.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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