Additional safeguards in child custody cases are now part of a bill that cracks down on human trafficking. Some lawmakers want to create “drop-off” sites at county courthouses, so estranged parents can safely shift custody of their children. Lexington Representative Kelly Flood persuaded fellow lawmakers a human trafficking bill should also be part of the legislation.
“With great regard for this particular bill, I believe that an appropriate committee substitute to propose that would take the original language of house bill three, known as the human trafficking bill, and turn this into a committee sub,” said Flood.
The human trafficking bill gives young victims the same legal protections as abused and neglected children. But the legislative move provoked the opposition of Republican House Member Jeff Hoover.
“We’re circumventing the process here, at the last minute and we always try to do this. I support the human trafficking bill. I do not support this process,” said Hoover.
The aim of the original bill is to create a safer environment when a child exchange is made in custody cases. In mid January, such an exchange in Hazard between estranged parents resulted in a triple murder. The legislation permits the court to establish a safe drop off spot in a courthouse. Still, Eastern Kentucky Senator Brandon Smith realizes it’s not a complete solution…
“And it’s heartbreaking, because I know they may be safe in the incidence that we’ve got them, but once they leave out there, I’m not sure there’s a law on the books out there, one that can be crafted that will protect people as they’re walking to their car or just trying to get their groceries,” added Smith.
The bill now faces a house vote and an unknown future in the state senate.