Increased public awareness and professional training in human trafficking are hallmark achievements of the 2017 South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force is made up of a variety of Federal, state and local agencies. Its’ efforts are to help reduce and eliminate human trafficking in South Carolina.
“January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month,” Attorney General Wilson said. “There is no better way to kick off a new year than by looking at the progress we’ve made, but also focusing on our goals for the upcoming year. The more we learn about the scope of human trafficking in South Carolina, the better equipped we are to attack it. I am proud of the Task Force and their continued work to eradicate this crime in our state.”
In 2017 there were 59 charges across the state of SC for Human Trafficking. 22 of those charges involved trafficking of minors. 18 cases were closed (7 of which involved minors). Three pled guilty (all three involved minors). Over all 50% of cases were dismissed, 33% were cleared by transfer to Federal prosecution, and 13% cleared by plea deals.
The Task Force is working to implement a 2014 State Plan to address Human Trafficking, which addresses points such as Data about Human Trafficking, Funding and resources, and coordination between agencies. In reflection on progress, the professional training and public awareness were listed as achieved, and ongoing. Areas that are in progress, include data collection and analysis, increased residential services. Efforts to have a juvenile human trafficking court are on hols and have not progressed.
Part of the challenge appears to being able to learn as much as possible about the extent of human trafficking, and have that coded into each agencies responses so it can be collected. Many different agencies makes using common definitions and data collection can be quite a challenge. Add into the lack of specifically trained law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, counselors, and services providers, and it is easy for victims to be misidentified. For example, is the minor a runaway, or a prostitute, or a victim of human trafficking? Once a victim is identified as being human trafficked, what resources are available specific to their needs.
77% of human trafficked victims are female and 15% are males, and 25-26% % are minors. About 70% are adults. Human trafficking is difficult to track and define as there are approximately 100,000 new escort ads every day, many featuring children. The Task Force is making progress and will continue into 2018 with meetings on the first Friday of March, June, September and December. Meetings are held in the West Columbia Complex from 10am to 12pm.
Information drawn from http://www.scag.gov/archives/29357