RACHEL RAMOS OF CHILDREN'S HOME SOCIETY SPEAKS OUT ABOUT TRANSITION HOME FOR PREGNANT OR PARENTING WOMEN & GIRLS
The Transition Home is located on the same campus with Safe Harbor on Forest Hill. The programs fall under the umbrella agency, the Children’s Home Society. This is an independent living maternity home housing 8 ladies, between 12-22, pregnant or parenting with one child or twins. There is an age restriction on children (age 6). There are two dedicated DCF beds and 6 community kid beds. Participants reside for up to 18 months for free in their own place with their own room and bathroom. This program uses a holistic perspective to provide services. There is a very selective intake process as participants must want to succeed in the program. There is a history of participants being a victim of crime. Participants are fully responsible for care of their own child. The program contracts with other partner programs to come in to help with parenting, independent living skills, etc. The program can also accept undocumented individuals and help them to get documents.
Many girls are referred by community providers and/or law enforcment. All staff has been trained and are seeing risk factors that they did not see before such as online dating, bringing men on campus, etc. Staff is working to address these new risk factors and needs that come along with this. Some of the services provided to participants include case management, food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothing, education, employment skills, diapers/wipes, counseling/therapy, parenting skills, child care, assistance with child support, transportation, medical fees, budgeting skills, and since this is an incentive-based program they provide moms night out with family-centered activities for participants. Participants are also able to access diapers/wipes for 6 months after completing program. Some of the requirements of participants include completing community service hours monthly, goals geared to education or employment, curfew tier system, chore schedule, food schedule, strict guest policy, required to save money while there to move on own, transportation policy, etc.
The main goal of this program is the education and employment of participants and helping them to lead independent, self-sustaining lives with their children.
Constantly in the red. Need donations of food, cleaning supplies, maternity clothes, children/baby supplies, etc.
JUDGE JAMES MARTZ ADDRESSES THE HUMAN TRAFFICKING FEBRUARY MEETING GIVING A JUDGE'S PERSPECTIVE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING ISSUES
"What role do judge's play? This is historically been a complicated subject." The role of the judiciary goes beyond determining who is right and who is wrong by listening to both sides without prejudice. The role of the judiciary includes maintaining oversight of abuses that can occur when rights and benefits are attached to a label such as a type of victimization. It's those abuses that can dillute the system for the true victims.
In the 90s, after the genocide in Rwanda, Judge Martz worked in the war crimes tribunal. The difference with this versus some other conflict areas was that people committing the crimes were lined up to be prosecuted. It was later realized that the United Nations prescribed the fair and humane treatment of war criminals. Knowing the possibilty of thier fate in the hands of the local government's judicial system, they were far better off being prosecuted as war criminals than being dealt with by the local system where they could potentially be executed or thrown in jail and forgotten. One of the other realizations came after speaking with these war criminals in that almost everyone who came forward was not only a criminal but a victim of the genocide.
Judge Martz described his participation in a gender-based violence initiative in the Caribbean nations: How we price our humanitarian nations versus how we treat our humanitarian efforts.
During first appearance, a number of things happen in a very rapid amount of time: Is the defendant indigent? If not, the defendant is assigned a public defender. Does the probable cause fit the statutory definition of the crime being charged? If yes, the judge checks the bond schedule, prescribes the recommended bond or no bond accordingly, and moves to the next case. They have very little time in front of the judge but like police officers must do a quick evaluation: 1-2 minute per defendant.
Generally, victims don't trust the judiciary system due to the circumstances of the trafficking. For international victims, they are worried that if it mirrors their home country's judicial system, they will be jailed, deported, bribed, and subject to poor or inhumane treatment. Also regarding arresting a child victim and sending them to juvenile hall because they fail to report the trafficking being perpetrated against them for any reason (afraid of the trafficker, in love with the trafficker, etc): How do you inspire a victim to break their silence and report, no matter the ill treatment, when they think "this beats being home?" If they can't overcome the traditional norms that society sets up for them due to disability, economic status, home life, it becomes a welcome opportunity for an alternative lifestyle - and traffickers will capitalize on that.
Trafficking cases are the needle in the haystack, the identified volume of victims is incredibly low. Public awareness is being done for sex trafficking and labor trafficking but the public awareness does not necessarily reflect ALL forms of trafficking. The domestic servitude and some of the labor trafficking is still lost out there.
You also have to realize that there are a lot of victims that become hardened to the life and have negative connotations of law enforcement and social workers that are trying to help. Sometimes it just takes someone saying "I'm listening" to make all the difference. Let me leave you with one piece of knowledge, "If you see it, report it." The best calls law enforcement end up with start with "This is probably nothing but..." These are the good leads that usually develop into a case break! If you get the guy calling for the 10th time about the house next door and the conversation starts with "I don't know why law enforcement doesn't do anything, I've called them 10 times," law enforcement has probably already followed up and made a determination. If you see it, report it.
Based on the Q & A:
PBSO's Pat McLean suggested giving information to prostitutes interested in getting out of the life, the information for the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign or contacting the Human Trafficking Hotline, 1888-3737-888, or if the victim is a child, the DCF Abuse Hotline, 1800-96-ABUSE.
JANUARY MEETING: RE-DEFINING OUR COALITION'S GOALS AND INITIATIVES IN THE NEW YEAR!
At our January meeting, the Coalition recognized the Human Trafficking Awareness Month by discussing events through-out the month in our county and beyond. We also talked about the Coalition's initiatives and actions plans to carry those out for the new year. Some of those inititatives include:
PBC Library Awareness Events
Summer Series Trainings
Walk the Streets Outreach Campaigns
Direct Service Provider Collections
Armory Arts Center Art Therapy Program
NO MEETING IN DECEMBER!
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! We look forward to seeing you in the new year with our newly elected board!
COLLECTION TIME! AT NOVEMBER'S MEETING, WE WILL BE COLLECTING FOR THERE IS HOPE FOR ME! PLEASE SEE LIST BELOW:
ALL ITEMS SHOULD BE NEW/UNUSED:
Dental Care Kits with Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Body Splash/Body Sprays
Small Stuffed Animals/Momentos/Keepsakes
Subway Gift Cards
Snacks (Boxes of Individual packaged items)
Publix Gift Cards
Gas Station Gift Cards
LEGAL AID ATTORNEY BILL BOOTH SPEAKS ABOUT LEGAL AID'S PROGRAMMING AT THE OCTOBER GENERAL MEETING
Attorney Bill Booth presented on Legal Aid Society of the Palm Beaches and described their programs to assist individuals that need legal assistance in the following areas:
Foster Children's Program
Juvenile Advocacy Project
Relative Caregivers Project
Educational Advocacy Project
Family Law Project
Domestic Violence Project
Family Empowerment Coalition
Elder Law Project
Ryan White Legal Project
Medical Legal Partnership Project
Non-Profit Legal Assistance Project
Low Income Taxpayer Clinic
Individual Rights Advocacy:
Immigrant Advocacy Project
Armed Services Advocacy Project
Fair Housing Project
You can access these programs and other information by visiting www.legalaidpbc.org or by calling (561) 655-8944.
ASSISTANT US ATTORNEY BARBARA MARTINEZ AND ATTORNEY SHANE O'MEARA FROM LEGAL AID'S IMMIGRATION PROGRAM PRESENTED LEGAL ISSUES FOR VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING DURING THE AUGUST COALITION MEETING.
AUSA Barbara Martinez presented on the legal statutes regarding human trafficking stating the US Attorney's Office prosecute approximately 8-10 cases per year where Human Trafficking was charged to the defendants. They can also charge US citizens for trafficking overseas as the TVPA allows for extraterritorial jurisdiction.
AUSA Martinez also descibed the sentencing for human trafficking charges with minimum mandatory sentencing being 10 years to life for most charges. However, most defendants that have multiple victims may increase their sentencing time prescribed.
AUSA Martinez provided some case examples from cases stemming from Mexico, from Ft. Lauderdale, including a case from Miami-Dade involving a police officer.
AUSA Martinez summed up a victim of trafficking using two adjectives: vulnerability and lack of freedom. AUSA Martinez commended the State of Florida for having some good legislation and identified gaps in Federal Legislation in regards to use of drugs to prove coercion whereas a state law was passed to this effect.
Shane O'Meara also presented on the immigration needs of foreign-born individuals. In 1996, with the passing of the Welfare Reform Act that required individuals have lawful immigration status to access public entitlements. Then after 9/11 happened, individuals were required to have lawful status to access ID cards, Driver's License, and other forms of identification.
Shane described the various avenues to obtain lawful permanent residency in the US. Attorney O'Meara also spoke about victim-specific legislation that made immigration possible for foreign-born individuals. Violence Against Women's Act provides for victims of domestic violence to apply for lawful permanent residency if their spouse is a lawful citizen and has been violent towards them. Further, the U-Visa provides victims of various crimes, typically violent crimes, where the victim assists in the investigation and prosecution of a case. T-Visa is specific to victims of human trafifcking and will provide status to victims in exchange for their cooperation with the investigation/prosecution of a case. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is another form of lawful status for foreign-born children due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Attorney O'Meara also provided some great tips for possible immigration reform such as:
-Collect all original documents (birth/marriage certificates for you and your children, consular ID cards/passports, etc)
-Pay your taxes! You can apply to the IRS for a taxpayer ID number (ITIN) if you are not eligible for a SSN. Keep copies of all of your tax returns! This shows good character!
-"Continuous Presence": Keep all documents to help prove that you are residing in the US such as bank documents, phone bills, medical records, pay stubs, insurance papers, children's school records, auto registrations, public assistance paperwork, apartment leases, rent receipts, electric bills, etc.
REGINA BERNADIN FROM INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE AND BRANDY MACALUSO FROM THE COALITION FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING OPTIONS SPEAK OUT ABOUT SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PROVIDING SOCIAL SERVICES TO VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING AT OUR JULY COALITION MEETING.
Human Trafficking victims are very unique in their needs, therefore, they require specialized service delivery that is free and apart from traditional service models. Regina and Brandy described and illustrated these specialized needs in a service by service overview. They also provided tips on collections, donations, and tangible needs of victims.The floor was then opened up to other service providers in the audience to talk about their own experiences and, in some cases, lessons learned. Below is a brief outline on service information:Guidance vs Self-Determination… One in the Same.
Interpretation Service: There are victims from every part of the world that are affected by trafficking. In order to facilitate communication, interpretation services are a vital resource.
Crisis Intervention/Law Enforcement Intervention: Trust and Rapport issues. Victims were tricked into trusting an individuals and/or group of individuals and were exploited because of their trust. Traffickers sometimes will spend months grooming victims to develop that trusting rapport before they traffic a victim. When providing crisis intervention or intervening as law enforcement, one of the first rules is to develop trust with your client, however, you are asking a victim to trust you after their trust led them down a trafficked path. Be mindful of this. It may take a victim years to trust you enough to tell their whole story.
Clothing: Trafficking victims, especially sex trafficking victims, often come out of trafficking situations with scantily clad clothing that they were made to perform in. They also may come from labor trafficking situation where dirty, torn, or pesticide-covered clothing, if they are in a farm-labor situation may be all they have on. New or gently used clothing is preferable, free of rips, tears, or holes.
Food: Certain cultures and or religions have specialized diets. Some cultures rely heavily on rice, noodles, beans, and/or vegetables which make these items staples when doing food collections.
Protection: Victims may only tell you their story in exchange for protection for themselves and/or their family. Protection can range anywhere from escorts to safe housing/shelter.
Legal Assistance: A law was signed by Florida’s governor making it possible for victims to exsponge their criminal history if the criminal activity was related to trafficking. They may need a lawyer to assist with the drafting of paperwork. They may also require legal assistance for the T-Visa, U-Visa, or Continued Presence paperwork if they are international victims of trafficking. Victim’s legal needs are also broad and include various types of law including civil (restitution), criminal, family and immigration.
Medical/Dental Care: Many of the victim’s health and dental issues have been created, ignored, or exacerbated by traffickers (or Johns in sex trafficking cases) through physical abuse. Triaging them should be a priority upon first discovery. There are many healthcare services that can be used to provide such service. However, not a lot of services exist for dental care currently.
Transportation: Victim’s might have limited or no access to transportation due to age and socio-economic status. Also victims might not be familiar with their surroundings or not live close to the offices of services providers, government agencies and other vital resources. Bus passes plus instruction and guidance on how to use public transportation might be needed.
Employment: Many victims need assistance in not only finding employment in the formal labor sector but in developing employment/job related skills. These include resume writing, job interviewing, and learning about and accessing appropriate clothing for work. Additional assistance might be needed for those who do not speak the language, who did not finish grammar school or were forced to work in the sex trade. One additional issue is making sure the employability does not mirror the victim’s trafficking situation. You must be mindful of triggers such as having an individual that was a victim of agricultural labor trafficking to work in an agricultural or landscaping field. Likewise, having a victim of forced restaurant labor working in a restaurant or cafeteria.
Mental Health Services: (Blackout or Lock-In Issues) Counseling and mental health services are core to the list of victim needs. Victims of human trafficking have endured psychological trauma and many require both short- term and long- term mental health services. Cognitive behavioral and trauma-based therapies have proven to be the most effective; however, each case is different and many victims respond to alternative forms of counseling better. These can include art and music therapy. There is still a stigma surrounding mental health treatment, so many victims are reluctant to accept the assistance. It is important as an advocate to stress the importance of such a service but ultimately let the survivor decide.
Substance Abuse Treatment: (Blackout or Lock-In Issues) and victims of trafficking were sometimes forced to take various substances by traffickers and would not have taken them of their own volition. They do need treatments to stop but certain treatment models where the treatment requires them to admit that their problem is of their own doing and promotes self-blame in taking responsibility can further denigrate their self-esteem and self-worth.
Childcare: Childcare is one of the hardest services to provide and very necessary in particular to women with small children. The resources in the community are scarce and it is too expensive to pay for individualized are. There are many stages in the trafficking service provision model which might require that the child not be present. These include interviews with law enforcement, testifying in court and attending employment interviews and mental health counseling sessions.
Life Skills: Whether it is due to age or cultural differences many trafficking victims will need assistance with developing crucial life skills. These can include such tasks as learning how to balance a check-book, to developing healthy relationships and making goals for the future.
Housing: (Blackout or Lock-In Issues): Housing is the most expensive direct service provided to victims of human trafficking. Access is limited and it is necessary long term. Today, many domestic violence and homeless shelters provide short-term housing to victims of human trafficking. However, victims must meet their existing eligibility criteria. That means that most domestic violence shelters will not house a male victim or that some homeless shelters cannot accept families (this depends on each individual facility). Federal monies are generous in funding safe and appropriate homes; however, it is important to be mindful that the funding is for a specific period of time and victims will be responsible for sustaining the household after the assistance ends.
Education: The stereotype is that victims of human trafficking have had limited schooling, usually because of the assumption that they are of low socio-economic resources. In reality, many victims have had college degrees or were professionals in their home countries. In the case of domestic victims, some were recruited while in college. It is important to work closely with the survivor to determine their educational needs. They might range from working with someone who is pre-literate to advocating for an individual who wishes to re-validate their title in the United States.
Spirituality/Religion: In some cases, trafficked victims have been tortured using religion against them. Such examples are “What God would allow this to happen to you?” or “You have sinned and now God is punishing you.”
The power of being absolved.
adn’t heard about this, only the expungement of their record.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS SPECIAL AGENT JON LONGO AND PALM BEACH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE DETECTIVE TIM DALY PRESENTED AT OUR JUNE COALITION MEETING ON LAW ENFORCEMENT'S RESPONSE TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING CASES.
Special Agent Jon Longo described the role of the Department of Homeland Security Investigations. He gave a brief overview of the Federal definition of human trafficking consisting of sex trafficking and labor trafficking. He provided some case examples, scenarios, and described the difference between smuggling and trafficking. Jon also provided information on how to make contact with Dept of Homeland Security Investigations to refer cases or to get additional information. Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
He provided possible indicators of trafficking activity seen below:
–Living conditions of potential victims
–Restriction of movement indicators
–Behavior indicators of severe dependency
–Possession of other’s legal documentation
–Possession of false or fraudulent documentation
–Insistence on providing information to officer
Indicators Upon Interview:
•Evidence of control and lack of ability to move freely or leave job
•Bruises or other signs of physical abuse
•Intense fear or depression
•Recent arrival from Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Canada, Africa, India
•Lack of ID or immigration documents
Detective Tim Daly from Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office also spoke of the local role in law enforcement since the local police departments typically get the initiating calls for un-related incidents such as domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and suspicion of drug dealing. Tim also talked about certain indicators that local law enforcement uses and stressed the importance of not "taking the law into your own hands" if you suspect human trafficking. He describe the investigations as on-going and very thorough and if law enforcement should be doing an investigation or bust and see you present (even with good intentions), they may assume that you are there for services provided by those trafficked individuals. Tim provided some additional information on how to report these crimes by calling 911 and following up by calling himself or Detective Dale Fox.
MABEL JURIC AND MEGAN PERKINS FROM THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN PRESENTED IN MAY ON THEIR AGENCY'S RESPONSE TO MISSING, EXPLOITED, AND TRAFFICKED CHILDREN.
NCMEC mission is to find missing children and prevent child victimization.
The agency serves as a National Clearing House for Missing and Exploited Children.
There are 5 locations that coordinate with US Marshalls, FBI, Secret Service, NCIS, ICE, and Diplomatic Security. NCMEC was created as a result of victim's families that lobbied congress.
The breakdown of agency activity is as follows:
24 Hotline: 1-(800) THE-LOST
Receives calls from law enforcement, parents, victims, or from the general public with leads. They handle family and non family abductions, lost, injured, or otherwise missing, endangered runaways, and 5779 cases or strictly law enforcement calls for assistance with individuals between 18 and 21.
Case Management: Intake completed, assigned, missing report with NCIC, call center, interviews, determination of needs, Photos Collected, Media Campaign, and finally potential recovery.
Case Analysis: Public and Private database searches, age progression development, social media outreach, analyzing and collaborating on leads, investigational units.
Team Adam: Rapid Response Team that deploy, advise and assist local investigators, provide on-scene access to NCMEC resources, and enable rapid distribution of critical information to other agencies or personnel.
Photo Distribution: Walmart Partnerships, Facebook Social Media Outreach, Univision and Telemundo, "Have You Seen Me?" Cards, and News Distribution Network.
FDLE Cases: Foster Care children, assigned social workers, NCMEC will make initial contact, verify info for posters, Photos updated as possible, emails, cell phones, supervisor information, Recovery verify any changes, hair colors, tattoos, piercings, marks, and scars. Backpage monitoring. (Girls have been known to return to group homes or foster facilities with nice clothes and well-groomed to recruit other girls into trafficking or other prostitution services).
Family Advocacy Division: Post recovery support to child victim and family of victim for long-term care for as long as the child needs support especially when trauma is associated with case.
Long-Term Missing: After 4-6 months, collection kit is sent to law enforcement for DNA, dental records, biometric collection, age progression, fingerprints, and NamUS, which is database to register missing persons.
Child Sex Trafficking Team:
Only deals with missing and exploited children that are suspected to be involved in trafficking. Created in June 2003, FBI and DOJ they started acting as a national clearing house. They provide law enforcement support and case management for suspected sex trafficking cases. Also provide help with multi-jurisdictional task forces for missing and exploited children suspected to be enslaved in trafficking situations. Also houses a cyber tipline www.cybertipline.com
where websites can report on child pornography, child exploitation, and child trafficking. NCMEC conducts detailed searches with public records, sex offender searches, social media searches, various website searches both public and private, to assist law enforcement with information on child victims and suspects. Family and friends are interviewed to find out about child victim's habits such as online chatting, information on friends/non-friend correspondence, personal grooming, routes they take to and from school, work, church, etc. They also check into where the child hangs out, changes in habit, new unexplained injuries, markings or tattoos, and changes in behavior. Information is referred to case analysis to coordinate with law enforcement for potential recovery.
The local Missing and Exploited Children field office is in Palm Beach Gardens. The contact phone number is (561) 848-1900. Mabel Juric is located at extension 3240, Donald Iman and extension 3246.
VALENTINA FERREIRA CREATED A EXTRACURRICULAR CLUB AT WELLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL FOCUSING ON THE ISSUE OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING. SHE PRESENTED HER EFFORTS AT THE APRIL COALITION MEETING.
2 Million sisters, brothers, mothers, daughters, friends.....Slaves. This is the number that awakened Valentina the reality of Human Trafficking. She created a club called Love Moves to love on the brokenhearted and the forgotten and noticed that Human Trafficking deserved all of Love Moves attention. Love Moves is now looking to put on their second annual "Love Moves Yard Sale" on April 20th from 8-1 in the Wellington High School bus loop. A yard sale where people can donate their items or can have their own tables to sell things. All the proceeds go to help continue the Hope For Freedom safe house. Aside from just raising the money, Love Moves is raising awareness in the community of a crime bigger than ourselves.
LIISA SPINELLO SPEAKS ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH, SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS DAY OF ACTION, AND PALM BEACH COUNTY VICTIM SERVICES AND CERTIFIED RAPE CRISIS CENTER DURING THE MONTH OF APRIL.
Liisa Spinello spoke about the Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. April 2, 2013 is the Sexual Assault Awareness Day of Action (SAAM Day). This year for SAAM Day, Palm Beach County Victim Services has decorated a field located at 4200 North Australian Avenue with 897 teal flags representing the 897 victims of sexual assault that Palm Beach County Victim Services has served over 2012. The small white flags also displayed in the field represent the 1 in 6 women that will be a victim of sexual asault throughout their lifetime. The SART Center fence is decorated in teal cups spelling out "No Means No!" with a banner, and an 8 foot high wooden teal ribbon.
April 24th is Denim Day. Denim Day is based on an Italian court case from 1997 where a sexual assault case was overturned because the judge ruled that the victim's jeans were too tight. The Center will also be handing out promotional items and creating signage for college campuses, bars, and health fairs advising the public not to leave their drinks unattended to avoid drugs being dissolved in them. They are also working on public service announcements advising the public that they don't have to report a sexual assault to law enforcement in order to receive a free forensic exam and services from their agency.
Palm Beach County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center serves all victims of crime, of all ages. The services provided by this agency include crisis response, advocacy, therapy, and community awareness. A victim DOES NOT need to go forward to law enforcement to receive services from this agency. To Contact Palm Beach County Victim Services, see numbers below:
24/7 Rape Crisis and Violent Crime Hotlines (561) 833-7273
Toll-Free: (866) 891-7273
TTY: (561) 355-1772
Main West Palm Beach Courthouse: (561) 355-2418
Victim Services SART Center: (561) 625-2568
North County Courthouse: (561) 625-2568
South County Courthouse: (561) 274-1500
West County Courthouse: (561) 996-4871
ELAYNE GOODING FROM THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL STATE OF FLORIDA ALSO PRESENTED ON CHANGES TO THE VICTIM'S COMPENSATION PROGRAM DURING OUR APRIL MEETING.
The Victim's Compensation Program is designed to assist primary and secondary victims of crime with benefits for wage loss, loss of support, disability, funeral/burial expenses, treatment expenses, mental health and grief counseling, property loss reimbursement for elderly over 60 years old or adults with a pre-existing disability, domestic violence relocation, and sexual battery relocation. All expenses must be directly related to the crime to be considered for payment. All benefit categories have payment limitations that can change without prior notice. All claims require an application with applicable documentation. Some benfits are not available for certain types of claims.
To request an application, apply for victim's compensation, or check the status of a claim, you can contact the Bureau of Victim Compensation by calling 1 (800) 226-6667. The Attorney General of the State of Florida can also provide information on the appellate court process, the Sexual Battery Examination Program, the Address Confidentiality Program for domestic violence, and victim services available in your area with referrals for local field agencies.
Elayne Gooding is the contact from the local Attorney General field office and provides services for the 15th and 19th Judicial Circuits as well as the 4th District Court of Appeals. Elayne can be contacted by calling (561) 837-5025 ext. 168.
SARAH WILLIS OF THE OFFICE OF STATEWIDE PROSECUTION AND TYSON ELLIOTT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE SPEAK OUT AT THE MARCH HTCPB GENERAL MEETING!
Sarah Willis spoke about the Office of Statewide Prosecution being a hybrid style prosecution in which they can prosecute under a multi-jurisdictional area in the State of Florida. Sarah also discussed the new laws instituted in Florida after July 1, 2012. All forms of human trafficking were combined and located under kidnapping and are now punishable by a first degree felony. These new laws also removed element of coercion from Florida law for victims under 18 years of age. The other distinction that was created during the changes included penalties for victims under 18 years of age being a first degree felony and punishable by up to life in prison. For victims under 15 years of age, its considered a "life felony" where the penalty minimum is life in prison.
Tyson Elliott also presented during this meeting on behalf of the Department of Juvenile Justice. He discussed a new Pilot Project that is underway in the Juvenile Justice Assessment Centers in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Orange Counties, as well as the Detention Centers in Miami-Dade, Bay, and Duval Counties. The project focuses on female victims of sex trafficking with a male perpetrator. This tool is used if certain indicators are flagged during the initial intake or assessment. For the months of January and February 2013, there were 56 children that completed the tool survey and 10 were flagged as human trafficking.
The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) recently cross-referenced cases with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in an effort to find out how many of the approximately 1200 Human Trafficking Reports from May 2009 through January 2013 made to DCF had been in contact with the DJJ. The statistics revealed that 717 DCF human trafficking cases had had contact prior with DJJ. Out of those 717 children, only 3% were brought in for prostitution. The juveniles were being charged with other charges, the majority being related to drugs, alcohol, assault, and/or battery.
Come back and check our website again soon as we add more events, trainings, and other useful information.