CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Texas became the first state to make buying sex a felony. The move is an effort to curb human trafficking and prostitution.
In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law HB1540. This week, the state unanimously passed the bill to crack down on so-called “johns” who pay for sex in an attempt to shift punitive blame away from those who engage in prostitution, many of whom are often victims of trafficking.
“We know the demand is the driving force behind human trafficking,” said Texas Rep. Senfronia Thompson, primary author of the bill. “If we can curb or stamp out the demand end of it, then we can save the lives of numerous persons.”
The law increases the penalty for paying for prostitution to a maximum of two years of jail time for the first offense. It also expands felony charges against traffickers who recruit minors at youth treatment facilities and centers.
It even adds a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in prison, for those who trespass on treatment center properties. In addition, enhanced penalties are in place for anyone caught selling drugs or committing other drug-related crimes within 1,000 feet of the centers, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The new law takes effect on September 1.
Read the bill.