Lawmakers Seek to Tighten Bar on Human Trafficking.By Lawayne Childrey | Published 05 Feb 2013 07:32pm |
State lawmakers are seeking to tighten the state's laws against human trafficking. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports those found guilty of trafficking children could face a minimum of 5 years in prison and up to 500 thousand dollars in fines.
Mississippi's major interstate system makes for a fast getaway to major cities like Dallas, New Orleans and Atlanta. Heather Wagner, director of the domestic-violence division of the state attorney general's office says that makes the state a prime target for human trafficking.
"And in a lot of these countries where these people are brought from the law enforcement is corrupt and involved in the practice so they are hesitant to reach out to law enforcement. But then on the other side you see United States citizens being trafficked in our own country in our own backyards. Particularly in the sex trade and our young girls and boys are particularly vulnerable in that arena."
Human trafficking is the act of forcing someone to work against their will.The measures by lawmakers say those who benefit from exploitation, not just those who force labor can be prosecuted. That's welcome news for Sandy Middleton, Executive Director of the Center for Violence Prevention in Pearl.
"Most people don't realize that trafficking is going on right under their noses. And it may be in the local nail salon, it may be in a massage parlor. Anytime there is compelled service and that fore or coercion exist then its human trafficking."
Human trafficking is estimated to be a 35 billion dollar industry in America. Wagner remains confident that the proposed legislation can go a long way towards ending the corruption in this state.
"On the one hand we want to catch those who are doing it and punish them more harshly. And on the other hand we want to keep them from coming here in the first place and having those harsher penalties might serve to do that."
Officials can’t say exactly how many victims of human trafficking are present in Mississippi. However, Biloxi police say they have investigated several cases. Biloxi police say they have investigated several cases and two men were indicted in federal court in Jackson last October for child sex trafficking. Lawayne Childrey MPB News.
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