(“Safe Harbor Act”), which was enacted in 2008.134 This “watershed
act”135 was a catalyst for the subsequent passage of similar “Safe
Harbor” bills in other states, including Connecticut, Illinois, and
Washington.136 The New York statute brings the federal “trafficking
victim-based model” approach to juvenile prostitution to the state
level.137 New York’s Safe Harbor Act treats children as victims by
categorizing them as persons in need of special services (“PINS”)
instead of as criminals.138
New York’s Safe Harbor Act prevents child victims of
commercial sexual exploitation from being prosecuted for
prostitution; grants immunity from prosecution for prostitution if the
victim is under eighteen years of age; and provides victims with
specialized services.139 There are three main provisions of the Act:
“First, it defines, ‘sexually exploited child’; Second, it mandates the
creation of specialized social services for sexually exploited children;
Third, it converts delinquency petitions charging sexually exploited
children with misdemeanor prostitution offenses into PINS
134 N. Y. SOC. SERV. LAW § 447-a (McKinney 2013) (defining the terms for the
New York State Trafficking Act).
135 See HUMAN TRAFFICKING LEGISLATIVE ISSUE BRIEF, supra note 14.
136 Id.; see also CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 53a-82 (West 2013) (Connecticut “Safe
Harbor” bill); 720 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/11-14(d) (West 2013) (Illinois “Safe
Harbor” bill); WASH. REV. CODE ANN. § 13.40.070(7) (West 2013), amended by
S.H.B. 1524, 63d Leg., Reg. Sess. (Wash. 2013) (Washington “Safe Harbor” bill).
137 See Schwartz, supra note 58, at 237.
139 See HINES & HOCHMAN, supra note 129, at 18 (discussing the proposal of
“Judge Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York and Chief Judge
of the Court of Appeals . . . to shift the adjudication of non-violent offenses among
16 and 17 year olds to family court – with rehabilitation, rather than punishment,
being the ultimate goal”). Currently, “non-violent offenses committed by
individuals aged 16 and above are tried in criminal court in New York State.” Id.
Thus, if a child is arrested for prostitution along with a non-violent offense, the
child’s case is tried in criminal court, “cutting these youth off from the referrals
family court makes to much needed intervention services.” Id. Judge Lippmann’s
proposal would significantly change this current statutory scheme and eliminate the
“dangerous hole in the Safe Harbor legislation.” Id.
140 See Schwartz, supra note 58, at 261.