In the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50 last month, law enforcement officials found 42 potential human trafficking victims through a series of stings. At least two were under the age of 18, according to CBS San Francisco news affiliate 5KPIX. Human trafficking is a fast-growing global issue with a reach that impacts every state in the country. In 2012, the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, or ILO, estimated that there are 21 million victims of human trafficking all across the world, forced into labor or commercial sex work. Experts suggest it is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world—just behind the international drug trade—netting an estimated $150 billion each year, according to the ILO.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Council of State Governments will work with States and with their federal counterparts—at the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of State—to combat human trafficking; and

The UAPRHT is a comprehensive law directed against human trafficking. It provides the three components necessary for ending human trafficking: comprehensive criminal penalties; protections for human-trafficking victims; and public awareness and prevention methods.

The Act allows non-violent crimes committed by victims of human trafficking to be expunged. Victims charged with non-violent offenses may make a motion in the court to expunge the offense after 60 days of being charged. If the court finds that the offense occurred because the individual was a victim of human trafficking the charges may be dismissed with prejudice.

Human trafficking is often described as a form of modern-day slavery through which individuals are exploited through force, fraud or coercion for labor service or commercial sex acts. State legislatures are leading the response to this fast-growing crime, according to Britanny Vanderhoof, policy counsel for the Polaris Project, a national anti-human trafficking advocacy organization. “States have really taken up the issue of human trafficking as a state issue,” she said during a recent webinar, “Human Trafficking: State Responses to Modern-Day Slavery,” presented by CSG South.

Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery whereby children and adults are exploited through force or coercion for sex acts or manual labor, is purported to be a multi-billion-dollar worldwide industry and one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises. The U.S. Department of State estimates that there are approximately 40,000 men, women and children who become victims of human trafficking in the United States every year. States have taken action, setting up task forces to assess the extent of this insidious practice and experimenting with policies to encourage reporting, train law enforcement personnel and increase the criminal penalties for perpetrators. 

Stateline Midwest

Over the past year, in nearly every Midwestern state, legislatures have passed new laws to address the problem of human trafficking.

More and more frequently, state and territorial attorneys general are at the forefront of dealing with great issues of the day, from combating human trafficking to enforcing consumer protection and cyberspace laws. With each year, attorneys general face additional challenges and legal landscapes. In 2012, attorneys general are shining a light on modern day slavery, as well as continuing to fight financial fraud. Additionally, Election Day 2012 will bring at least five new state attorneys general and another five who are seeking re-election.

An article in today's Washington Post reports on the flurry of new state laws targeting human trafficking, including dozens of laws to increase criminal penalties against traffickers and provide assistance to victims. 

The Council of State Governments encourages lawmakers to investigate the effects of human trafficking in their own states and act to pass legislation that will address these activities

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