Lawmakers hear testimony on fining "johns"

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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - A lawmaking committee held a public hearing Thursday on a bill that takes a new approach to combat sex trafficking in Wisconsin.

Co-written by Rep. Andre Jacque of De Pere, the legislation would create a $5,000 surcharge on convicted traffickers or the so-called "johns" who solicit prostitution.

Brown County investigators and victim advocates testified in Madison in support of the bill, saying it could help cut down the demand for these types of crimes.

Brian Russo, co-founder of Eye Heart World, said, "We've received calls at literally all hours of the day and we've worked with dozens and dozens of girls in Green Bay and Brown County alone. What never ceases to amaze our team, though, is the number of 'johns' in the market to buy sex."

Under the proposed law, half of the money raised by the trafficking surcharge would pay for police overtime and anti-trafficking operations. The other half would go to a crime victims fund.

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