Judicial Branch Helps Battle Sex Trafficking
"It's pretty traumatizing to be a victim of human trafficking," said Fox. "People who find themselves in that situation don't have access to medical treatment, psychiatric treatment, and other types of services.
"We'll see if there's ways to help them more," continued Fox. "We'll look at what's out there. Is it sufficient? Are there areas where they could do more to help a specific category of people and see what they come back with in a couple months."
Then there are the tougher penalties for those who knew — or reasonably should have known — that they patronized a prostitute who was under the age of 18 or a victim of human trafficking. The crime goes from a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison to a class C felony punishable by as much as 10 years in prison.
The law also aims to prevent the prosecution of victims of human trafficking for prostitution. It also vacates such an existing prosecution. Additionally, the new law allows for the forfeiture of property from a pimp who is convicted, similar to the way that the government seizes the assets of drug traffickers.
Most human trafficking cases in the state are handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Due to the government shutdown, statistics on such cases were not immediately available. Most recently in August, Bruce Damico, a former Hartford resident, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for sex trafficking involving minors.
Kamar James, also of Hartford, pled guilty during the summer to sex trafficking of a minor and faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
According to the state Department of Children and Families, since 2008, there have been approximately 100 children in Connecticut who were confirmed as victims of minor sex trafficking. Of them, roughly 98 percent had already been involved with child welfare services in some manner.
Teresa Younger, executive director for the Permanent Commission for the Status of Women, chairs the state's Trafficking in Persons Council.
In 2004, the legislature created the Inter-agency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons. The original mission was to research the extent of trafficking in Connecticut, as well as determine what services are available to victims and how well-equipped Connecticut law enforcement agencies are in dealing with the problem.
In 2007, by law, that grouped morphed into the current Trafficking in Persons Council. The group was then tasked with how best to respond to victims of human trafficking and funding was provided to OVS to better train law enforcement, state agencies, community-based advocate groups and other providers of services with how to deal with victims.