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Louisiana must amp up efforts across a number of agencies or the state will continue its reputation as being a hub for sex trafficking, experts say.
The state faces a general lack of funding across the board, as well as a shortfall of emergency housing, victims’ services and trauma informed care.
When an individual is over 18, law enforcement has to be able to prove there was “force, fraud or coercion” to arrest on a human trafficking charge, which can be difficult to do when a woman has been “brainwashed” by a pimp or trafficker, said Lt. Raising the threshold from 18 to 21 would help with victims within that age range.
Law enforcement would no longer have to meet the same burden in proving elements of force, fraud or coercion were used.
“We have slavery going on in our state in 2016.”Nonprofit organizations that work with trafficking survivors — including Eden House, Baptist Friendship House, Trafficking Hope and Purchased — said they run solely off of philanthropy and donations.
Increased Funding for Law Enforcement Most law enforcement agencies with anti-human trafficking efforts have carved out funds from their overall budget.
Those modules are optional and can be used to fulfill continuing professional development mandates.
We’re not doing enough.”Mills said the state's progress is a result of concentrated efforts of certain key individuals, but that dedication needs to extend across every parish.“You don’t have dedicated people to combat human trafficking in all departments all across the state,” Mills said.
WHAT LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN DOIncreased training for all officers Gremillion said an increased awareness of human trafficking among state police officers led to an 86 percent increase in the number of human trafficking cases investigated in Louisiana — from 22 cases in 2014, to 41 cases in 2015.
Chris Cantrell, a FBI senior agent, said agents who are trained at the Academy or receive additional training become more savvy in identifying the signs of human trafficking and also knowing how to respond to victims.“All that goes into play.
As such, they often have trouble finding jobs or apartments in safe neighborhoods.
Dietzel said Eden House has a partnership with the New Orleans housing authority, which fast-tracks graduates of the recovery program into Section 8 housing.
She said finding good-paying jobs for graduates--most of whom have, at most, a GED — remains a challenge.