This week Polaris Project a Washington, D.C. based non-profit fighting against modern day slavery released the 2011 State Rating System. This system rates each state according to laws that have been established in preventing and prosecuting human trafficking and providing victim assistance within each state. Texas was ranked one of the highest overall with 9 points out of 10.
This year new laws were established in Texas to protect victims of human trafficking. This new legislature will go into effect September 1st, 2011. One example is SB 24 introduced by Senator Leticia Van De Putte of San Antonio. This bill created tougher laws by certain criminal and civil consequences of offenses involving or related to the trafficking of persons. It also provides better protection for victims of human trafficking.
The rating system looks at 10 categories of state statutes that Polaris Projects believes are essential in effectively combating human trafficking. These categories are: sex trafficking, labor trafficking, asset forfeiture and or investigative tools, training on human trafficking (Human Trafficking Task force), posting human trafficking hotline number, lower burden of proof for sex trafficking minors, victims assistance, access to civil damages, vacating convictions for sex trafficking victims. Each one of these receive 1 to 2 points, plus or minus depending on the states policies.
Texas is one of 12 states to get a higher rating for laws established for victims of human trafficking. Even with the laws that were passed this year there is still areas that Polaris Project recommended.
Suggestions for new policies are safe harbor, protecting sex trafficked minors and vacating convictions for sex trafficked minors. The purpose of a rating system is to motivate legislators and policy advocates to achieve a strong framework in fighting human trafficking within the laws enacted.
It is great that Texas has received a high rating for the new laws created this year but in a state with a population of over 25,000,000 the fight to stop human trafficking is essential. Laws are only as good as they are being enforced. If it takes a village to raise a child it takes everyone to stop slavery.
Information from this article came from Polaris Project, Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas Government online.