PIERRE, S.D (KELO AM) - Attorney General Marty Jackley today joined a bi-partisan national coalition of 47 Attorneys General and 2 Territory Attorneys General calling on Congress to amend the law to help fight prostitution and child sex trafficking. In a letter to key members of Congress, the Attorneys General advocated that Congress amend the Communications Decency Act to provide criminal jurisdiction to state and local prosecutors. The letter’s lead sponsors were Attorneys General from the states of Missouri, South Dakota and Washington.
The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was drafted when the internet was in its infancy. The original purpose of the Act was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, but courts have interpreted certain provisions of the Act to provide immunity from State prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as Backpage.com, that promote and profit from human trafficking.
Prostitution is a local crime. Absent interstate travel, federal property, or the involvement of a minor, prostitution is not a federal crime. While the Communications Decency Act provides criminal authority to the federal government, the Attorneys General believe that criminal jurisdiction needs to be extended to help combat these crimes. "Sex trafficking and the victimization of children has moved on-line. Forty Nine State Attorneys General have come together to request the federal government to give state and local prosecutors the tools to more effectively address the intentional and for profit victimization of women and children,” said Jackley. Prostitution and sex offenses continue to rise in South Dakota. There were 20 prostitution offenses in 2012, up from 13 in 2011. In addition there were 132 sex offenses in 2011 and 144 in 2012.
Revenue from online prostitution advertising has steadily increased over the past several years, but even more steadily over the past year according to Aim Group. Backpage.com, for example generated an estimated $3 million to $4 million per month in revenue.