A percentage of money from court fines would help pay for efforts to fight internet predators under a bill that passed the South Carolina House on Tuesday.
Legislators unanimously approved a 6.1 percent fee taken out of fines in general sessions court that would go towards a new “Internet Crimes Against Children Fund.” The fees would offer a funding source to help beef up the state’s ICAC task force, supporters say. The task force is part of the state Attorney General’s Office.
“What this funding would do is allow our law enforcement officers to be more proactive and maybe rescue other children who are out there,” lead sponsor State Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, told South Carolina Radio Network after the vote.
The measure heads to the Senate after another procedural vote expected Wednesday.
The bill is nicknamed “Alicia’s Law” after Alicia Kozakiewicz, a Pennsylvania woman lured from her home at age 13 by an older man she met online. The man kidnapped her and kept her a sexual prisoner, torturing, abusing and raping her before she was rescued by law enforcement several days later. Kozakiewicz has spent the past 14 years raising awareness of internet child safety and pushing for more resources to find potential predators and victims.
Pope said it provides a steady funding source for a state task force that investigates these cases.
While Tuesday’s vote was unanimous, some lawmakers were concerned about an increased reliance on fines and fees, which are not always steady funding sources.
“There’s a detrimental factor that’s very strong in the raising of fees and fines,” State Rep. David Weeks, D-Sumter, said. “And I don’t know if government ought to be raising its budget specifically on that reliance.”