OLYMPIA – Rep. David Sawyer’s bill to rescue sexually abused and exploited children moves on to the governor with a final 95-0 vote in the House today. Sawyer’s House Bill 1281 will provide new funding for Washington’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, giving law enforcement the tools they need to pursue and prosecute child abusers and child pornography traffickers.
“Law enforcement knows a majority of these child pornography traffickers are hands-on offenders,” said Sawyer (D – Lakewood). “This bill is about more than prosecuting child pornography traffickers — it’s about rescuing children from sexual abuse.”
Sawyer’s legislation will create a special Child Rescue Fund. Each conviction for child pornography will result in a $1,000 fine that will go into the new account. Persons convicted of child pornography are convicted individually for each depiction, so Sawyer’s bill will mandate a $1,000 fine per video or image of a child. HB 1281 won unanimous approval from the House on March 4 and from the Senate early last week. The Senate version amended the name of the funding account, as a companion bill in the senate would create an additional account set aside for state budget allocations
The ICAC task force was created in 1998 to find and prosecute child pornography traffickers, many of whom are hands-on abusers. But because of underfunding, law enforcement were unable to pursue an estimated 17,000 leads last year. Each of those leads is a potential case of a child being abused and exploited, with depictions of the abuse shared over the Internet.
According to Washington ICAC task force numbers, Washington has the highest rate of child pornography downloads per capita in the nation.
The legislation is modeled after Alicia’s Law, a national campaign by PROTECT to pass laws dedicating funding to ICAC task forces in every state.