Former human trafficking victim Clemmie Greenlee was buoyant — and, at other times, tearful — Monday as she watched Gov. Bobby Jindal sign four bills into state law.
The measures target human trafficking through different avenues. The centerpiece of the package is House Bill 1025, which spells out tougher penalties over 37 pages of legislation. One weapon now in the courts’ arsenal: Computers and vehicles used in the commission of the crime can be seized and sold to fund services for victims.
“With all of your help ... let’s make this happen,” an exuberant Greenlee told a packed room at the State Capitol.
Greenlee — a Tennessee native — is resident director at New Orleans’ Eden House, a two-year residential program for women who have been commercially and sexually exploited. She was forced into prostitution at age 12. It took her decades to right her life. She said Jindal’s signature on the human trafficking bills helps erase some of the pain.
Exactly how big of a problem human trafficking is in Louisiana remains unclear. The crime is defined as forcing someone to provide commercial services — often sex — against his or her will. Three people were arrested last week in Natchitoches Parish in a human trafficking case.
In the Natchitoches case, a transgender woman allegedly was turned into a slave and forced to perform chores and sex acts. She ran away, with part of a chain still around her.
Jindal said human trafficking is a horrific crime that happens at an alarming rate. He said it’s not just happening overseas in impoverished countries.
The state operating budget contains $250,000 to help educate law enforcement officers about human trafficking. The training is aimed at helping officers recognize signs of the crime as they patrol.
Australian pastor Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking, said the measures underway in Louisiana are historic. She said Louisiana has built a prototype that can be replicated in other states.
“You ought to be grateful that you are in a state that is at the forefront,” Caine said.
The governor signed:
- HB1025 to create the crime of unlawful purchase of commercial sexual activity and to allow property seizure for certain human trafficking crimes.
- House Bill 569 to allow the creation of human trafficking courts by district courts. The judiciary would have to find the dollars for the new courts.
- House Bill 1105 to require that outpatient abortion facilities post the hotline to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
- House Bill 1262 to require that women receive information on coerced abortions and human trafficking before undergoing elective abortions.
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