Shared Hope International Reports Best and Worst States

Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to the fight against sex trafficking, released its third annual “Report Card” for the 50 states regarding legislation on minor sex trafficking – part of the Protected Innocence Challenge – and while a few states are still failing, each has shown marked improvement.

“This year, we only have six states that have an F, while last year 26 states were failing,” said Taryn Offenbacher, communications director for Shared Hope. For the first time, three states have actually scored an “A” on their list.

There are six major criteria Shared Hope uses to judge states on sex trafficking. States must have laws specifically against it, criminalizing the selling of minors for sex and having specific punishments for those who enslave and sell people, those who buy them, and those who facilitate the industry. Traffickers should be required to file as sex offenders and their “financial penalty should match their property ownership.” Laws must also acknowledge that the girls trafficked are not prostitutes – they must be protected from legal prosecution and “should never have a criminal record” for being victimized. Finally, there has to be law enforcement able to enforce the laws, recognize trafficking, and to provide evidence to a prosecutor.

Shared Hope presented the story behind the three “A” States, the three worst states, and two greatly improved states.

Tennessee, A Score: 93.5

Before Tennessee Legislators started passing laws, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigators studied sex trafficking. Immediately after releasing that study in 2012, the Legislature passed numerous bills.

Louisiana, A Score: 93

Shared Hope became involved in Louisiana in 2006, implementing a project with the Department of Justice. In 2010, they passed “a large bill specifically identifying that prostitution when it involves a minor is not prostitution, but trafficking.”

Washington, A Score: 92.5

Since Linda Smith, Shared Hope’s founder and president, is a former state legislator in Washington, the organization has worked closely with a number of legislators and with Attorney General Rob McKenna, who introduced the issue to the National Association of Attorneys General.

Maine, F Score: 54

Although the Legislature passed an important bill in the 2013 session, it is disconnected from the entire fabric of laws. Shared Hope intends to help Maine address related components.

Michigan, F Score: 53

The Attorney General in Michigan is very good on this issue. However, in order to be thorough, Michigan has also undertaken a careful study to craft a complex reform.

California, F Score: 50

California, like Maine, passed an important law, but they didn’t understand the demand component.

Most Improved: Wyoming, C up 38 Points from 32.5 to 70.5

The state passed a very comprehensive bill this year. Oregon also made efforts on the demand side and Massachusetts has shown great improvement. Oregon rose 21.5 points from a D to a B. Massachusetts went from an F to a C, and kept efforts up this year rising up to a B.

Learn more at Tyler O’Neil’s The Christian Post article: Report Card: 3 States With A’s, 3 States With F’s on Minor Sex Trafficking.

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