Arizona Republicans have introduced legislation in the state's House and Senate that would make child sex trafficking punishable by a prison sentence of life with no opportunity for release.
Last week, Representative Selina Bliss and Senator Shawnna LM Bolick introduced mirror legislation, HCR 2042 and SCR 1021, to "protect society's most vulnerable members."
According to press release about the legislation, "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."
Anyone convicted under these bills would not be eligible for commutation, parole, or release from confinement under any circumstances.
"Arizona must be a place where the innocence of our youth is protected, and justice prevails," said Representative Bliss in a statement."That’s why it’s my honor to sponsor this legislation that would ensure that individuals convicted of sexual offenses involving child victims face severe and irrevocable consequences. 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."
Majority Leader Rep. Leo Biasiucci said during a press conference on Thursday that this legislation would make Arizona the strictest state in the country for child sex crimes.
Rep. Bliss explained during the press conference that the average age of a victim of sex trafficking is just 14 years old.
"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," Rep. Bliss said. "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."
Sen. Bolick noted that the "wide open border" is contributing to sex trafficking.
"We believe in holding traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes, and that's why we’ve filed legislation for a ballot referral to put convicted child sex traffickers behind bars for life," said Senator Bolick. "Our message is clear: our children are not for sale, and we will not tolerate heinous crimes against them. Join us in this fight to protect our most precious resource—our children. Perpetrators, not here, not now, not never!"