WASHINGTON — Polaris Project released its 2010 human trafficking state ratings, featuring the “Dirty Dozen” – twelve states that have failed to enact basic human trafficking provisions or have provisions that fail to adequately address the growing crime. The ratings indicate how equipped states are to respond to human trafficking and serve as a resource for lawmakers on what specific provisions should be enacted to improve each state’s comprehensive approach to combating the issue.
Human trafficking, not to be confused with smuggling, is a $32 billion a year industry worldwide, and the United States is an active and profitable venue for both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Human traffickers target the most vulnerable populations, which include an estimated 100,000 American children exploited in the commercial sex industry annually. Although a federal law exists, the hidden nature of human trafficking requires eyes and ears on the ground, and that calls for complementary state laws.
“Human trafficking is more prevalent than people realize, and the federal government alone cannot eradicate it,” stated Bradley Myles, Executive Director and CEO of Polaris Project. “Human traffickers constantly look for places where they can make high profits and where they feel like there is little chance of getting caught. States that fail to provide critical deterrents – strong penalties, asset forfeiture laws, or trained law enforcement – are at heightened risk.”
Standing out in the ratings are the “Dirty Dozen,” which include states that have not addressed the crime of human trafficking at all (Hawaii, Massachusetts, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming). The remaining states (Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia) criminalize only sex trafficking or labor trafficking but not both, only include human trafficking as a mere sentencing enhancement, or have laws that are too weak or so narrowly drafted that investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking cannot proceed. Conversely, states that have taken the most action to combat human trafficking in a comprehensive way include Connecticut, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington, among others.
Polaris Project is a leading organization in the United States combating all forms of human trafficking and serving both U.S. citizens and foreign national victims, including men, women, and children.
For more information, visit www.PolarisProject.org.