This year, the Tennessee General Assembly passed 13 bills to regarding human trafficking, including measures creating a statewide trafficking task force and increasing prison sentences for offenders.
Tennessee still lacks full “safe harbor” laws which protect child victims of sexual exploitation, as well as laws that allow prostitution convictions to be removed from criminal records, if they are the result of trafficking. Also, the state as yet has no law which mandates posting the number of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.
Polaris Project CEO Bradley Myles says an historic turning point has taken place, now that all 50 states have passed laws that criminalize human trafficking.
Senior Policy Counsel James Dold says the non-profit will be encouraging all states to strengthen laws protecting and assisting trafficking victims.
Arkansas was the most improved state, moving to Tier 1 after passing legislation allowing assets from traffickers to be forfeited and providing law enforcement training. Arkansas law now also mandates posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline and providing victim services.
Wyoming became the last state to outlaw human trafficking in February.
The International Labor Organization estimates nearly 21 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, forced to provide commercial sex, labor, or other services against their will.
(Tennessee ranking/report here)