The collective changes making up Safe Harbor legislation and supporting the implementation of Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door were passed in Minnesota in 2011 and 2013 with additional funding allocated in 2014.
The original Safe Harbor Law, passed in 2011, included the following key changes – four were effective immediately in 2011 while two additional changes were intended to go into effect August 1st, 2014; one was later repealed.
- Added the definition of sexually exploited youth in Minnesota’s child protection codes to be effective immediately.
- Excluded sexually exploited youth under age 16 from the definition of delinquent child. Youth under age 16 engaging in conduct that relates to being hired, offering to be hired or agreeing to be hired by another individual to engage in sexual conduct, are not charged with a crime for this act. This was to be effective August 1, 2014, but was later expanded to include youth under age 18. See Laws of Minnesota 2013, chapter 108, article 3, section 37, at pages 94-95 (removing all children under 18 from the definition of “delinquent child” and “delinquent petty offender”).
- Introduced a diversion program for youth ages 16 and 17 engaging in prostitution. This was to be effective August 1st, 2014 but was later repealed after de-criminalization was expanded to under age 18.
- Increased the penalties against the facilitators of commercial sexual exploitation and purchasers (“patrons”) as well as required that revenue from additional fines be distributed to local law enforcement and prosecuting agencies to support training and to further combat sexual exploitation and to victim services agencies to support survivors, effective immediately.
- Directed the Commissioner of Public Safety to work with stakeholders to create a victim-centered, statewide response for sexually exploited youth effective immediately. This effort went on to recommend the No Wrong Door Model for sexually exploited youth which was submitted to the legislature January 2013.
- Amended language in the definitions of “Prostitution”, “Patron” and “Prostitute” to reflect a shift in thinking with patrons equally engaging in the act of prostitution and “prostitution” to be inclusive of both the act of hiring as well as being hired for sexual services.
- Extended the age range for a sexually exploited youth to under 18. Excluding sexually exploited youth under 18 from the definition of delinquent child resolved the conflict that defines in law a sexually exploited youth as both a victim and delinquent. Likewise, mandatory diversion for youth ages 16-17 engaging in prostitution was repealed; all sexually exploited youth under age 18 instead have access to services and support through the No Wrong Door Model. Effective August 1st, 2014.
- Established the Statewide Director of Safe Harbor responsible for oversight of Regional Navigators, dissemination of best practices, monitoring anti-trafficking efforts, grant management and evaluation of statewide efforts. Effective immediately.
- Implemented state service model called No Wrong Door – making available resources and services for sexually exploited youth including regional navigators, housing and shelter, comprehensive services, and training and protocol development. Allocated funding for Regional Navigators and Safe Harbor shelter and housing. Effective August 1st 2014.
- Tasked Ramsey County Attorney’s office to develop a statewide model protocol for law enforcement, prosecutors and other professionals for best practices on identifying and responding to sexually exploited youth as well as the provision of statewide trainings for law enforcement and prosecutors. Effective immediately
- Further amended language to reflect a shift in thinking with the term ‘sexually exploited youth’ substituting 'youth engaged in prostitution’.
- Allocated additional funding for comprehensive, trauma-informed, culturally-specific services and housing for sexually exploited youth. Effective immediately.
Minnesota Session Laws Enacting Safe Harbor legislation:
- 2011 Session: Chapter 1, Senate File 1
- 2013 Session: Chapter 108, House File 1233
- 2014 Session: House File 1958
- 2014 Session: Senate File 1857
- Penalties for facilitators and purchasers: MN Statute 609.3241, 609.3242
- Duties of Statewide Safe Harbor Director: MN Statute 145.4716
- Regional Navigator Grants: MN Statute 145.4717
- Safe Harbor Evaluation: MN Statute 145.4718
- Child in need of protection or services: MN Statute 260C.007
- Definition Delinquent Child: MN Statute 260B.007
- Juvenile Prostitution Diversion: MN Statute 609.093, repealed
- Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Definitions: MN Statute 609.321