New sex trafficking laws going into effect July 1; How big is th - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New sex trafficking laws going into effect July 1; How big is the problem here?

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Big changes in legislation going into effect Wednesday July 1, will strengthen several Human Sex Trafficking laws across Tennessee, keeping the volunteer state on the forefront of the nationwide campaign to end sex slavery. 

CEO of Second Life Chattanooga Jerry Redman tells Channel 3, his office is called in to help a sex trafficking victim each week.

"Just yesterday we working in tandem with a couple of different agencies to get someone to safety," said Redman.

Officials say age, sex, race, and economic status doesn't matter, no two victims are the same. Statistics show a person has about the same chance of becoming a victim in a rural area as they do the city. A recent TBI study shows just how big the problem is; In Tennessee a total of 78 counties or 85% had at least 1 case of Human Sex Trafficking.  In comparison, just 62 of the 95 counties reported gang activity.

The same study shows 68 counties or 72% had at least 1 case of sex trafficking involving a child. In Hamilton County alone, Channel 3 confirmed more than 100 adult cases and 26-50 cases involving a child.

"What we've realized in the last 5-years is none of us had been trained and educated properly to understand the issue.. much less recognize it, much less act on it," said Redman.

The new laws going into effect July 1, provide 4 additional TBI special agents to train law enforcement officials in identifying, investigating and prosecuting human trafficking. Those agents will also train first responders and caseworkers. One of the four agents will be based in Chattanooga.

"It's huge, each of the laws going into effect are important but this particular law where these four special agents are being brought on is vitally important," said Redman. 

In addition, the statute of limitations will be increased to 25 years for all sex crime cases that involve a minor. New money is available to process rape evidence at no charge to local law enforcement agencies. Finally, law enforcement will be allowed to utilize wiretaps to investigate commercial human trafficking. 

"That's a huge piece for us," said Redman. "Someone trafficked at the age of 8, 10, or 12 can now come forward and their story will be heard and authorities will dive in and investigate."

If you're interested in joining the fight, you can attend an open Human Sex Trafficking Coalition meeting Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 11:30 am – 1:00 pm at the Development Resource Center, 1250 Market St., Chattanooga, TN 37402.

If you or someone you know is being victimized, there are local resources available to help. You can call the Tennessee Hotline at 1-855-55-TNHTH or the National Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. You can find more information about Second Life Chattanooga by visiting their website: http://secondlifechattanooga.org/


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