HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Ten years ago, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a law making human trafficking a crime. In the last ten years, exactly zero people have been convicted under that law. Today, a forum at the State Legislative Office Building looked into why.
One reason may be that, unfortunately, when it comes to sex trafficking, some people say, well, it’s just prostitutes.
“They are not prostitutes,” said Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz in her opening statement at the forum. “They are not prostitutes, they are victims, or as many of them would like to describe themselves, they are survivors.”
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families keeps getting more and more tips about young people at risk for human trafficking. It got 132 tips just last year alone. Those tips then go to regional Human Anti-Trafficking Response Teams (HART) for a response.
“And that could be an immediate response,” said Tammy Sneed, who oversees those HART teams for DCF. “Or it could be up to 72 hours depending on the urgency of the case, and really where that young person is at the moment, is he or she safe?”
As for law enforcement, they don’t want to arrest the victims. They want to go after the traffickers themselves, the ones forcing young people into prostitution. In 10 years, there have been only 10 arrests under Connecticut’s law, and again, zero convictions.
“A lot of that is resources,” explained Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane. “If the administration and if the legislature really wants these laws enforced, they have to stand up and say okay we’ll help.”
Several speakers made similar complains, that the resources are simply not there on the state level, and that perhaps new legislation is needed to update the law passed 10 years ago.