Human Trafficking

The Kentucky House unanimously passed two bills to combat sex trafficking and child pornography in the state.

One bill would prevent those charged with having sex with a child prostitute from claiming they thought the child was over 18. Democratic Representative Sannie Overly says the bill goes along with legislation working its way through the U.S. Congress that amends federal trafficking statutes in the same way.

Courtesy of Dr. Katherine Taken Smith

We begin a new series of reports called Racer Scholar Profiles, highlighting Murray State Faculty research, scholarly and creative activities across colleges and schools. Our first guest is Dr. Katherine Taken Smith, who teaches consumer behavior and promotions management in the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business. She published an article on human trafficking and its connection with businesses, what corporations can do to eliminate human trafficking in their supply chains and how consumer behavior can put pressure on businesses to be proactive in curbing the demand for this modern form of slavery. 

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a bill yesterday  allowing individuals forced into prostitution through human trafficking to have their records expunged.

A bill that would strengthen Kentucky's human trafficking laws has passed a Senate committee and appears ready to finally become law.

House Bill 3 is sponsored by state Rep. Sannie Overly, a Paris Democrat and the House majority caucus chair. It's considered so-called "safe harbor legislation," which would require treatment for victims of human trafficking instead of legal ramifications, such as prostitution or immigration charges.

After a few small changes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill passed easily Thursday and heads to the Senate floor. The legislation has already passed the House.

Overly said years of work on the bill—plus changes to this year's bill to recruit past opponents—gives House Bill 3 a good chance to become law.

Kentucky may soon join a small but growing number of states enacting laws to protect juvenile victims of the sex trade.  House Bill 3 would restrict authorities' ability to charge minors with offenses related to prostitution and require minors suspected to be involved in prostitution receive social services. 


Some Kentucky lawmakers say they’ll push to strengthen the Commonwealth's human trafficking law during the upcoming legislative session.  Democratic State Rep. Sannie Overly tells the Lexington Herald-Leader she plans to sponsor a bill similar to one she introduced last year to increase training for law enforcement.  The measure would also use money from those convicted of such crimes to pay for victim services. 

A federal judge has ruled that a Tennessee law passed last year that targets online sex ads violates free speech rights.  Judge John Nixon says the law that protects children from sex trafficking is written in a way that infringes on freedom of speech and interstate commerce laws. took the issue to court. The website publishes millions of ads each month that include ones that sell adult services, and it says screening every ad on its site was impossible and would hurt its business.

The Senate is expected Friday to consider a measure to attempt to fight human trafficking in the state.  The bill sponsored by Democratic Representative Sannie Overly of Paris passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday evening with changes recommended by public defenders.  It would make it a crime to patronize a minor victim of human trafficking, strengthen current laws to help prosecutors get convictions in human trafficking cases, create a special state police unit on human trafficking by training existing officers and establish a victims' trust fund.  Penalties under the bill coul