This month we renew our commitment to end human trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center says Florida ranks third in the nation for number of calls from victims. And that is just from people willing to report. Modern slavery exists in every state, including Florida, and it is known as human trafficking.
House Bill 1439
As the nation observes National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, state Rep. Jackie Toledo has filed House Bill 1439, the Human Trafficking Reduction Act. HB 1439 is designed to reduce human trafficking in Florida by implementing preventative measures and increasing penalties for traffickers. The goal of this bill is to make Florida a leader in the fight against human trafficking and protect victims of this heinous crime. “We will deter potential johns from entering into this multi-billion dollar marketplace,” Toledo said.
The legislation builds upon the gains made last session for prosecutors and trafficking survivors including these measures:
- Banning hourly rates at motels
- Raising the penalties for first-time sex buying from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony
- Offering survivors the ability to petition for confidential expunction of a criminal record obtained while they were victims of trafficking
- Supporting law enforcement in efforts to gather and collect data
Establishing the Persons Risk to Resilience Lab (TIP Lab).
HB 1439 also establishes the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg Trafficking in Persons Risk to Resilience Lab (TIP Lab) as a statewide repository for human trafficking data collected from law enforcement sources across the state. Law enforcement can use technology and academic research to better predict, react, and prevent human trafficking.
“House Bill 1439 will give our law enforcement partners the necessary tools not only to deter and prevent this horrendous crime but also to have the data they need to best address trafficking in their part of the state. Additionally, we are continuing to reform the expungement process for survivors so that they may regain their life and livelihood,” said Toledo.
One Step Closer to Ending Human Trafficking.
Representative Jackie Toledo is doing great work in fighting against human trafficking. Her latest bill, House Bill 1439, will help to reduce human trafficking by implementing preventative measures and increasing penalties for traffickers. This bill builds upon the gains made last session and will help law enforcement better predict, react, and prevent human trafficking. Join us in raising awareness for this issue by participating in #WearBlueDay every January 11th. Let’s work together to put an end to human trafficking!
Since human trafficking is often a crime that is hidden in plain sight, it is important to be aware of its warning signs. Some indications that a person may be a victim of human trafficking include (especially in the case of women and children):
- Appearing malnourished
- Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse
- Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement
- Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction
- Lacking official identification documents
- Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions
- Working excessively long hours
- Living at the place of employment
- Checking into hotels/motels with older males, and referring to those males as a boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp
- Poor physical or dental health
- Tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or lower back
- Untreated sexually transmitted diseases
- Small children serving in a family restaurant
- Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment – barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows
- Not allowing people to go into public alone, or speak for themselves