Official Title: Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute
Proposition 35 increases the penalties on "human trafficking," which means forced prostitution and slave labor. In the case of prostitution, it would not seem to apply to people who are freelance, voluntary prostitutes, but would apply to pimps, traffickers and kidnappers.
Slavery, and especially sexual slavery, are bad things. They are already illegal and the punishments are not light. The problem seems to be enforcement, which has usually been a low priority. In this time of tax resistance and cutbacks, it has been nearly nonexistent.
Sadly, human trafficking is a black-market business that responds to the laws of supply and demand. Even if there are more convictions, and longer sentences if Proposition 35 passes, there will be plenty of soldier-businessmen to step in and continue the practice.
Stiffer penalties may actually endanger the girls the law is presumed to protect. The girls are witnesses and often rightly afraid to testify given the brutality of their owners. With the stakes raised, owners would have greater incentive to murder anyone they suspected would testify against them.
I admire the people who put this issue to the California voters. However, I think it would be better to enforce the current laws. How you force overburdened police to prioritize this, I don't know.
So my No is not a strong No. If you think heavier penalties will do anything about this evil, then you should vote Yes.
Another solution would be to legalize and regulate prostitution, as is done in Nevada. Even then, however, we would need to keep the laws against sex slavery, and of course against sexual coercion of minors.
No on 35, Don't increase human trafficking penalties.
Proposition 35 summary, official arguments, and text