Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Law Legislation Becomes Georgia Law

ATLANTA (May 5, 2015) Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 8 into Georgia law today at the Georgia State Capitol. The legislation focuses on ending the sexual exploitation of Georgia minors and establishes more severe punishments for those found guilty of this crime. The new law will allow children who have been victimized by sex trafficking to be treated as victims—not criminals. 

Senate Bill 8, also known as the Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Law legislation, extends the statute of limitations for child sex trafficking victims from the age of 23 to the age of 25 for actions committed on or after July 1, 2015. The legislation also outlines the operation of the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund and Commission, including the remittance of fees for criminal penalties and the operation of adult entertainment establishments. The Fund will be a separate entity of the state treasury, and will be used to provide care, rehabilitative services, residential housing, health services, and social services to sexually exploited children through persons or programs. The legislation will also require offenders to register with the State Sexual Offender Registry.

A companion resolution to Senate Bill 8 will go straight to voters for approval in November 2016. Senate Resolution 7 the framework for a constitutional amendment that would allow the Georgia General Assembly to set additional penalties or fees in cases where a person is found guilty of severe sex crimes. These crimes include keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children.