(NASHVILLE, TN), February 5, 2014 – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), alongside Senators Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), and Ken Yager (R-Kingston), is once again leading the charge to pass new anti-human trafficking laws that will raise awareness and help limit wide-ranging human trafficking activity currently taking place in Tennessee. Following an important national ranking issued last year by the anti-trafficking advocacy group Shared Hope International, Tennessee emerged as a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, and those laws are about to get even stronger.
“This is a widespread problem in Tennessee, and it is especially disturbing because many victims of human trafficking are children,” said Senator Kelsey. “I am honored to once again bring this legislation on behalf of victims and their families that have all been impacted so greatly by these terrible crimes.”
This year, the anti-human trafficking coalition has filed 11 bills with the hope that they will toughen state laws, help survivors, and aid law enforcement in their quest to eradicate human trafficking in Tennessee. Kelsey said the legislation builds on human trafficking laws passed since 2011 after a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) report highlighted the problem. The TBI report showed 73 of the state’s 95 counties have reported the crime within their borders. The study also showed that sixty-two counties reported the presence of sex trafficking of minors.
The legislation brought before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday seeks to enhance penalties against those who promote or patronize the illegal act, give more rights to human trafficking victims, update our laws to help ensure offenders cannot escape prosecution, and mandates a statewide TBI training program that will raise awareness and spotlight victims’ needs and issues.
“Passing tougher laws is a crucial step to ending human trafficking in our state,” concluded Senator Kelsey. “These bills will help increase prosecutions of traffickers and provide much needed support for survivors.”
Senator Kelsey represents Cordova, East Memphis, and Germantown. He is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.