What is Florida Doing to Combat Human Trafficking?

I'm currently reading a book titled, Land of the Free, which is about fighting human trafficking. The author is from Florida, and discusses how he saw human trafficking happen first-hand. It wasn't in some third world country, but in his home state. I was very emotional at what I read. Not only because of the fact the crime was so horrible that he described, but that this is happening in my home state of Florida. I wanted to do some research into what the state has done or is doing to currently fight modern day slavery.

For those who may not know, Florida is #3 for highest trafficking rates. Why does Florida have such a high human trafficking rate? The main factor is demand. The United States is the number one consumer of sex, and also the number one consumer of child pornography. As long as there is a demand for humans (sexually or manual labor), there will be traffickers who provide that demand. 

Other factors into the high rate of human trafficking in Florida is tourism and unskilled labor. Florida's economy relies heavily on agriculture and tourism, which feeds the demand for human trafficking. There's no real solution I can think of that would make human trafficking decrease in these two areas, because it's such an intricate part of the Florida economy. However, it's important to recognize what state officials and legislators are currently doing to fight modern day slavery.

Here is a list of the different laws that have been passed in Florida to combat human trafficking:
  • The Safe Harbor Act (2012): This law helps ensure the victims of child sex trafficking receive the help they deserve, as well as help stop these traffickers.
  • 2017 Florida Statutes 823.05- Public Nuisances: Places where human trafficking rings are known to work through (i.e. massage establishments), as well as putting criminal activity as a public nuisance.
  • 2017 Florida Statute 787.06- Human trafficking: Perpetrators of human trafficking will be penalized for the illegal activity. Victims of trafficking must be protected and receive assistance by the state and their agencies.
  • SB 540 (2019); Human Trafficking: As stated on the Florida Senate government website, "Requiring the Department of Legal Affairs to establish a certain direct-support organization; requiring the direct-support organization, in conjunction with the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, to form certain partnerships for specified purposes; requiring a public lodging establishment to train certain employees and create certain policies relating to human trafficking by a specified date; requiring that the criminal history record of a person who is convicted of, or who enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation be added to the Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database."
  • HB 851 (2019): Gov. DeSantis signed another law that "requires spas and hotels teach staff to spot signs of sex trafficking and all law enforcement officers complete four-hour training on how to investigate the crime." (Source: The Florida-Times Union)
  • SB 1826 (2021): From the Florida Senate government website, "Providing that a communication between a human trafficking victim advocate or trained volunteer and a human trafficking victim is confidential in certain circumstances; prohibiting a person from engaging in specified criminal acts relating to human trafficking with an adult believed to be a child younger than 18 years of age; prohibiting a clerk of the court from charging certain fees for petitions for expunction of human trafficking victim criminal history records; requiring a court to impose specified conditions on probationers or community controllees who are placed under supervision for committing a specified human trafficking offense on or after a certain date, etc."
Attorney General Ashley Moody serves on the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking Florida, which serves to do the following
1) "Develop recommendations for comprehensive programs and services including recommendations for certification of safe houses & safe foster homes"; 
2) "Make recommendations for apprehending and prosecuting traffickers and enhancing coordination of responses"; 
3) "Hold an annual statewide policy summit with an institution of higher learning"; 
4) "Work with the Department of Children and Families to create and maintain an inventory of human trafficking programs and services in our state"; 
5) "Develop overall policy recommendations."

I know it would appear I am biased to Florida since I live here, but I believe you should be aware of what laws are in place in your home state. Knowing what is being done to prevent human trafficking, to combat human trafficking, and to assist the victims is all important to ending modern day slavery. To be honest, I didn't know Florida does so much to fight human trafficking. While I'm very impressed to see them leading the fight, it clearly isn't enough. I do hope the legislators continue to do work that will stop human trafficking. If you don't know what laws are in your state to fight human trafficking, I would recommend looking into it.

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