Home>Crime>Bolick Sponsors Ballot Initiative for Child-Trafficking Punishment

State Representative Shawnna Bolick speaking with attendees at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, July 24, 2021. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Bolick Sponsors Ballot Initiative for Child-Trafficking Punishment

Voters would consider making child trafficking a life-sentence violation

By Steve Kirwan, March 12, 2024 11:59 am

AZ Senator Shawnna Bolick (R-LD2) is sponsoring a ballot initiative that would allow voters to approve lifetime sentencing rules for anyone convicted of child trafficking. By creating a ballot initiative, Bolick has effectively circumvented the possibility of a Hobbs veto. Governor Hobbs, a Democrat, has broken a state record with a whopping 143-veto count her first year in office. As reported by Arizona Globe on March 6, 2024, the Governor has signaled her intention to use veto power to oppose Republican-initiated bills, especially those related to combatting the Biden Administration’s border policy.

According to the Senate Fact Sheet submitted for committee review, SCR1021’s purpose is defined as “Subject to voter approval, constitutionally requires an adult who is convicted of sex
trafficking of a minor child to be sentenced to natural life imprisonment.”

It’s important to note that this initiative focuses solely on “child sex trafficking,” an issue that appears to garner significant bipartisan support in light of reporting on the impacts of illegal border crossings. Mexican drug cartels force children into a form of indentured servitude as repayment for assisting in helping the children cross the border. Many of these kids are unaccompanied by adults, making them prime targets for cartel depredation. To pay their “crossing tax,” most are sold either into sex trafficking or into child labor. This initiative focuses solely on sex trafficking. According to Arizona’s Attorney General, the mean age for children involved with sex trafficking is 14.

Senator Bolick explained her motivation in a press release dated Monday, March 11, 2024. She stated, “I am a mother, wife, and protector of our children. Today, my fellow Republican senators and I took a stand to stop child sex trafficking across Arizona. Human trafficking is not specific to any age, race, or gender, and it occurs throughout rural, suburban, and urban areas across our Grand Canyon State. With a wide-open southern border and derelict government agencies, cases of human trafficking are on the rise.”

She continued, “Republican state lawmakers stand united to send a message to those disgusting animals responsible for stealing our children’s innocence– Arizona’s children are our most valuable resource. We would like everyone to know, our children are not for sale. One Arizona child who is victimized is one too many.”

Despite the benefit of avoiding a potential veto, using the ballot initiative process lays the bill’s fortunes at the voters’ feet. However, this is an evergreen issue that garners widespread support and, with its narrower focus, has a high likelihood of passage.

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