In 2016, there were 20,424 human trafficking cases in the United States, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. 108 of those reported cases were in the state of Tennessee. Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery and is a crime in every state in the United States, as well as under both federal and international law.
What is human trafficking?
In human trafficking, an individual is exploited for the purposes of forced labor or a commercial sex act by means of fraud, force, or coercion. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that it ranks behind drug trafficking as the second-fastest growing criminal industry. In the United States alone, a child is purchased or sold for sex approximately every two minutes, with 13 years of age being the average age of children sold.
Tennessee ranks among best in approach
The state of Tennessee is committed to understanding and putting an end to this practice and currently ranks among the nation's best in its approach to handling human trafficking. Tennessee institutes stiff penalties against those individuals who are promoting another individual for prostitution, provides training for officers, and works to provide safe placements for child victims.
Tennessee's legislation to combat human trafficking
On July 1, 2016, Tennessee implemented comprehensive legislation designed to curtail human trafficking by increasing penalties for traffickers who promote another individual for purposes of prostitution. Details of the new law are as follows:
- Penalties increased to a Class E felony for traffickers who promote another for prostitution
- Specifies that the offense of promoting prostitution is applicable only when an individual promotes or procures another for prostitution, thereby not unduly punishing victims
- Offenders are required to register as a sex offender
- Expanded the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation training on human sex trafficking to include officers and administrators in the juvenile court system, the Tennessee Judicial Conference, the Tennessee General Sessions Judge Conference, and the Clerks of Court conference
- Department of Children's Services guidelines now include a definition of “caregiver” to provide for safe placements for victims and to allow tracking of victims in the state.
In its quest to better understand the issue of human trafficking in the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has commissioned extensive studies over the past few years. Lawmakers and nonprofit organizations are working together to support efforts that will hold buyers accountable and assist victims.
Contact our office if you have questions or concerns
If you or a loved one has experienced some involvement in human trafficking, it is important you understand Tennessee law on this crime and the consequences for violating the law. The knowledgeable legal team at Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law is experienced in criminal law and skilled in handling complex legal issues. To arrange a confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact our office today at 615-890-1982 or contact us online.