Midwestern states step up efforts to stop human trafficking

Stateline Midwest

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

According to the Polaris Project — an organization that works to combat trafficking and modern-day slavery around the globe — legislative actions have taken several forms, such as:

• cracking down on individuals who, through force, coercion or fraud, compel others to engage in criminal sex acts (sex trafficking) or to provide labor or other services (labor trafficking);
• requiring the forfeiture of assets by traffickers and giving new training and tools to investigators (wiretapping authority, for example); and
• providing assistance for victims and passing Safe Harbor laws that grant immunity for sex-trafficked individuals under the age of 18.

Polaris ranks five Midwestern states as having among the strongest anti-trafficking laws in the nation: Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio. In all five states, bills were signed into law this year, most recently HB 5278 in Illinois and HB 262 in Ohio. In contrast, South Dakota was listed among Polaris’ “faltering four” states for having done little to combat trafficking.