Trafficking in Human Beings Targeted by Rep. Hodges

The Joint Human Trafficking Study Commission, chaired by Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches and co-chaired by Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Central, met at the State Capitol January 7, to discuss strengthening laws against human trafficking in Louisiana.

“We want to make Louisiana the gold standard in protecting our children by dealing with this scourge that can easily destroy a society,” Long said.

Shared Hope International gives Louisiana an “A” rating on 41 key legislative components that must be addressed in a state’s laws in order to effectively respond to the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking.

Rep Hodges said, “Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others.”

Legislation being considered includes:

• Creating human trafficking divisions within state district courts.

• Increasing penalties for trafficking or soliciting sex from a prostitute who is recruited from a shelter.

• Barring evidence of a victim’s past sexual behavior from being admissible in court.

• Allowing sex trafficking victims to pursue civil remedies.

• Permitting wiretaps in investigations of the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.

• Mandating that law enforcement training include information about human trafficking.

Governor Jindal vowed his support in the efforts being made by state lawmakers and the commission to make Louisiana a state where traffickers are afraid to do business.

State Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, said officials need to dispel the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime.

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