Massachusetts Attorney General Makes Human Trafficking Law a Priority

There have been only a handful of arrests under the state’s year-old human-trafficking law, prompting Attorney General Martha Coakley — a chief backer of the get-tough legislation — to go on a statewide tour, training police and prosecutors to build cases against brothels and make them stick.

“There’s definitely more work to do, but we’re off to a good start,” said Coakley.  “We want to see it ramped up. We’re working on it. We want to see two things: more accountability for the trafficking that takes place now, and more deterrence, sending the message that we will prosecute those who buy and sell young women in Massachusetts.”

The law, signed a year ago and in effect since February, created the new crime of human trafficking for sexual servitude, punishable by at least five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Prosecutors admit cases have been few and far between, but they say they’re not about to let up. One of the chief difficulties in bringing these cases is the reluctance of victims to participate,” Suffolk District Attorney spokesman Jake Wark said.

The law has brought other benefits, such as a 20 percent spike in reports of possible exploitation to the state Department of Children and Families. Lisa Goldblatt Grace, director of My Life My Choice — an agency that saves young women from the sex trade — said her group has seen “a significant uptick in referrals for services since the legislation was enacted. … Girls deserve supportive services from adults who care for them and are willing to help them find a path to safety and stability.”

Learn more at John Zaremba’s Boston Herald article: AG makes human trafficking law a priority.

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