By Emily Babay
Virginia has improved what had been a dismal record on curbing human trafficking, according to a national anti-trafficking organization.
Polaris Project, which runs the national human trafficking resource center, had previously rated Virginia in its lowest tier. But after the state passed three anti-trafficking bills last year, Virginia is now ranked in its second-highest tier and is no longer singled out as "lagging behind" in its human-trafficking laws.
"Great bills went through," said James Dold, policy counsel for Polaris Project.
Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the three bills in May. One makes the abduction of any person for prostitution or of a minor for manufacturing child pornography a Class 2 felony that is punishable by 20 years to life in prison. Another requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to advise law enforcement about prosecuting trafficking offenses. The third mandates that the Department of Social Services develop a plan to help trafficking victims.
Officials said those measures are already being implemented. The state held its first training seminar on recognizing human trafficking and prosecuting it last week.
"The biggest problem is spotting it," Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said. He said the session taught prosecutors, police officers and social workers about signs of trafficking and Virginia laws.
Read the full article