WWL>Topics>>7-22-14 1pm, Angela, Human Trafficking

7-22-14 1pm, Angela, Human Trafficking

Jul 22, 2014|

If you think sex trafficking happens in foreign countries, think again. Sex trafficking is happening at an alarming rate right here in Louisiana. Why and what are we doing about it? Louisiana has some of the toughest sex trafficking laws in the nation. A new bill gives the victims new legal protection and the perpetrators stronger penalties. Why is it so pervasive in the state? We have an active port, large conventions and big events. How are law enforcement being trained and what should the public look for?

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Hello everybody I hope you're having a beautiful day it's a nice -- out there if you didn't get that time arena innocent people on the West Bank did. But I think the sun's gonna come out and will be a great day for the rest of the day. We have three very interesting shows ahead. I'm so thrilled that -- one of our state representatives is going to be here for the whole hour talking about. Something that he worked very hard on this last. Legislative session about -- about trafficking. Human trafficking. In our next hour John Kennedy the state treasurer will join us to talk about a myriad of subjects. And then our third hour it's a group of our citizens and I love this I love when citizens become activist. Certain group of citizens from various neighborhoods who are finally saying enough so enough we must address what we are paying police officers. We must address other issues that they feel. Is one that we are losing police officers and not having the struggle were having to gain them. So it's very interesting topic and they're going to have a big meeting tonight so we grabbed him at a time -- please be a part of that is well. But we begin with one of the most notable successes. During the recent legislative session. Was the passage of a number of bills making Louisiana. A leader in the fight against human trafficking. Four bills were passed. And among the leaders in the battle state representative Neil Abramson. Of New Orleans who is our guest for the next hour and if you have any questions or comments for him. Give us a call at 260187260187. Thank you for being here thank you have him. You know what I was thinking as I was writing this even the term human trafficking. Is very disturbing. And when you think about. And yet I think the majority of us think of that unfortunate. Situation as happening in other countries. Other places around the world and not in the United States not in Louisiana. Exactly right -- and one of those big issues that we face years it's a lack of awareness I think. People are very cognizant of a lot of things particularly after Hurricane Katrina. One thing that I've noticed over and over again that people have. Difficulty. Believing. Is that we have a problem with human trafficking because most people do believe that's something that only happens. In -- come. Point country you see a movie. In my in my be about human trafficking happens abroad. People don't realize that happened right here in this country and happened right here locally in the warms. I. First is -- a big problem in New Orleans is -- a big problem in Louisiana. It's it's been a growing growing problem it particularly became. Big after Hurricane Katrina. With all the chaos and disruption that occurred after Hurricane Katrina. The court or which is called by -- I attend court or between Baton Rouge in loans. Big became an increased area for human trafficking has been become big problem and it happens in other places around the state to. But particularly between bad -- -- What do you think led to. I think I just can't -- that and creating net cord I think it was just the opportunity that was created by the hurricanes and disruption. Because. We're talking about the journal to put human trafficking perspective because the the terminology is scary. But in our -- and exactly what has a lot people first think it's more prostitution. A lot of people talk about prostitution but that's not really what we're talking about in terms human trafficking. Commonly always talk about prostitution you're talking about two adults it's it's a consensual. Participation. With the exchange of money for sexual activity which is a crime and we have laws on the books to deal with that. What the focus what I've been focusing on his human trafficking which is a non consensual forced coerced. Of that where you have either a woman or child and for children in this mostly girls but he can also be boys. Who were forced into these. Offense and most of time it's it's sexual activity where they're forced to perform sexual activities by someone. Who then pays money goes to someone else like a trafficker. A lot -- we call them counts. Called traffickers. And that is what we're talking about we're talking about victims here who are either through violence or forced to do this through the threat of violence. Or coercion they could be. If you want food to eat because you have no place to go no food on the table no family on the little that can take care via if you wanna eat then you'll do these things forming. Can be shelter if you wanna do if you wanna get off the streets and get a -- over your head you'll do this. Emotional. Blackmail and other things that are used to force people forcing victims women and children to do things they'll laws wouldn't. Are these people kidnapped or they are living on the street they can be all of the above they can be. They can be children who have abducted and brought here from all the places. Have no place to go have no family. Our alma street it could be people who run away from all the places come here and no infrastructure no friendly and up on the street. May feel they have no choice if I'm gonna eat if I'm gonna have a roof over my head I have to do certain things in the forced into these situations. Where this happens. And it is it is more younger. Might not always not always it's both children and all my focus primarily has been on the children but as both children and adult than we've been working. To get the laws -- Baton Rouge for the states. In place originally started with the children we've expanded to adults and we don't work you two solve this problem as best we can for children handle it. I guess I'm still thinking in terms of you know these big. Lack of Edward networks or. Not mafia but her. Big organizations. That traffic people. Both for sexual work and and slavery essentially. And I'm still. Trying to grapple with the fact that it's right here. Here and it's it's a big financial business. And you see a very common. When you have big events that come to town. Because there's a lot of people a lot of people from out of town a lot of money involved. NBA all star game NFL Super Bowl. You have a large events which attract a lot of people. A lot of money involved in these big events. And there's usually you huge uptick and human trafficking. How -- they communicate. Is that by on the Internet and how did they. Let's someone know I have someone available. It just surprising it's all -- they can be Internet you can be out on the street. All sorts of methods of communication. And and the traffickers yet. Better and better obviously. Try to avoid law enforcement in the and there are methods of communication. So -- -- necessarily the perceived. -- on the street. But it is that it it it. Is this part of that -- -- it's also more sophisticated mass amounts of communication like Eminem and other. Right what a world we're living I -- right right here in New Orleans -- in Louisiana. Which you'd think was happening in Asia. It and and and once I got involved in this amount of -- first came to my attention in 2008. In the first that you that I introduced and passed with. That helped my colleagues in Baton Rouge was in 2009. And haven't been involved mound and talk with law enforcement talking with victims services -- talk with -- victims it is amazing. How prolific it is out there that were unaware off. I'm not talking about you see on every street corner and you see it every day. But the lack of awareness -- when it first came to my attention I had the same thoughts as people here for the first time that are unaware of it is. Are you serious this is happening in the United States is happy and New Orleans. And the more more you learn about it the more more than that you kind of see and understand that it's out there and we have to deal with -- Stay with us everyone we're gonna continue talking with state representative Neil Abramson. And if you have any thoughts and give us a call Joseph we're gonna get to your promise to 60187. -- will be right back. -- are back with the state representative Neil Abramson who's talking about. A human trafficking and and now we are leader Louisiana is a leader in the movement to stop it. -- thank you for holding on you had a question or comment. Neil question is so laws written my understanding is rather -- day. And I gave me an example. -- knows someone who is being forced to lower. There. And she and marketers. That she was -- should of the ropes to. She was taken in custody. -- she was charged with human trafficking. She was forced to take a plea deal in order in prison. And beat -- was arrested. It was George human trafficking. Into one of the counts for. The same person uses -- -- and it. The question you is there anyway to close the loophole. Because -- Audrey a very anybody could be audience. You hit the nail on the -- with an issue that we've been working on the legislature I'm not sure exactly. The year that you -- talking about. But the the last two U2 years 20122014. Legislation that authored and we passed a combatant has address that specific thing which is. Trying to distinguish between. Criminals and victims. And the law part of that didn't and so anybody that participate in this activity could be charged as a criminal because. They were engaging in criminal activity. But what we've done now with to try to define the laws so that. The trafficker. Is the criminal in the person who's being forced to do this with talk on the victim. Is actually a victim and should not be prosecuted should not be put in jail but actually needs help and should be. Eligible and qualified for services. And the law does that now for example. Let me ask you is it actually happens in November of 2000 there. So last year this was before the legislation. -- an -- just for second because I had a question this woman who was being forced to do this had the two miners that she also was sort of training. Is that why they prosecuted her. Yes. You just this mr. -- there. Right and what the the law now as is is that exist today provides the affirmative defense. And victim can come and -- a I have I am a victim of this I'm not a criminal was forced to do this and now has the ability through an affirmative defense that we have enacted to say that. I should not be convicted of this. But and before there was no affirmative defense and if you. If you did what the elements of the crime world which. They would have participated -- and they can be convicted now they have the ability. To say are on the victim I was forced to do this. And prove that out and and and show that it's actually an affirmative defense to this and they they would not be prosecuted. And they would not go to jail and. Question can -- be used retro active because. In November 2000 there. I'd I'd I -- it can be used retroactively because she's already been prosecuted she's already convicted but we we did but some other elements into it to address that for example. So on is our have been convicted of this has ability go get their record expunged. We also have the ability -- she still in this process. Call post conviction relief which is after you've been convicted and you're still bringing -- legal issues because your convictions not final. We also put a provision in the state criminal post conviction relief statutes that allow also wanna come back after the fact. And say I was actually a victim and that my senate's should be vacated and I should not. Have a record of this and I should. You know my my conviction should go away so to speak and so we we have put all those in the place for current victims now have over affirmative defense. Victims over -- prosecutor and actually convicted before the statue -- an effect. Now have the bit of the ability to either overturn their conviction through post conviction or if it's already run its course to actually expunge the -- -- -- Is there hope for that moment. -- Yes do you think there's hope for this woman. Do she's not even from this state then because of the situation she is stuck here in Louisiana. On probation. She cannot return to Kentucky because Kentucky considered human trafficking. They checks. And they will not take -- tax there and she's stuck here with -- family Oprah and and basically live with the on the border others. That this may be a situation which. Are trying to go -- and expunge your record by proving that she was a victim of human trafficking to remove that from her record. And then allow her to return home. Thank you very much for calling -- And again if anybody else has any comments or any thoughts -- any questions to 601 and seventy. Let's talk about the bills that were passed this year for bills. Yes the the first bill one of the bill that I offered was the comprehensive post conviction a few -- human trafficking bill that was 37 pages. -- it has a plethora of things dealing with human trafficking from dealing with the criminal statutes. We've been this has been a work in progress. We have so many criminal statute on the books. Dealing with all type of offenses. Different types of sexual offenses. Different types of violent sex offenses. Kidnapping. You on and on and on. There are so many of them that we were trying to make them consistent with each other. And also we were trying to expand them to take into account human trafficking situations. When at the time that they were drafted sometime ago and put on the books. Would not have considered human trafficking as kidnapping or human trafficking as a particular sexual offense. And so we went back through all of the criminal statutes that had anything to do with this topic. And expanded down tailored down made of consistent with each other to deal with human trafficking. The second aspect of of the bill from brought perspective had to do with law enforcement and criminal justice training. The bill now includes a mandatory provision that is part -- new recruits who go to the academies they won't get a certain amount of training. Mandatory training on human trafficking. Know what the statutes are and know how to identify on the streets know who the perpetrators who's the victim. Also the existing officers who go through their annual recertification in annual training there's a certain amount of hours that they re do every year. There's a mandatory requirement that a certain amount that time be dedicated to human trafficking. And the third component was dealing -- victims services. Particularly with children who who now can qualify for a child in -- services. We we know that. We we take care of our children. If their views of the removed from the home we give them care -- on under the state and -- and we we provide certain services to them. We now recognize children who were victims of human trafficking. As child and in in the and they qualified for those services and were also expanding to try to take care as best we can't adult victims as well so the three parts to the bill. That I worked on his deal with the criminal. Penalties and the statutes dealing with law enforcement and criminal justice training in dealing with the victim's services. And then they all -- we had one. That now allows the different courts around the state who end up with. Human trafficking cases to actually dedicated particular judge or particular section on the court to deal specifically -- human trafficking. Because again this is somewhat of a specialized area. The trend now a days -- to have specialized judges of specialized courts where. If there's a particular type of -- on one judge can come specialize in that deal with that and that's what one of the other bills did. The other bills kind of touched on this from different angles in terms of notifications. Publishing. The potential for human trafficking in certain places creating hotline. And those sort of things that were there were common like awareness in the locations. We have a lot to talk about. I -- gonna take a break go to the newsroom but again just to continue to educators. Trying to distinguish between the trafficking and prostitution. As I think that's big stay with us everyone I'm Angela under the W well again talking with state representative Neil Abramson who help. Helped -- passed four laws I'm fighting human trafficking. Which again we are learning more and more about that was just this year that you really started a couple of years ago. With the acknowledgment that this was here not just in foreign countries but here in Louisiana here in New Orleans. Again if people are. Their descent were walking down the French Quarter we see. A young girl and it's clearly she's in the business world and in that profession. How do we distinguish. Her being doing this by choice. And being forced into it. That is one of the hardest things and we've the caller who called before talked about -- distinguish between. A criminal -- victim. And that is one reasons why we put in the mandatory law enforcement training this past year. Is because probably the hardest thing to do is to determine and to distinguish between is that person doing this of their own volition. Or are -- being forced to do it and how we. Tell the difference. And there are training programs. Now we have mandatory training programs. The big elements that I always hear people say to identify those particular if you haven't known person a child. With an adult and it looks like there. In a place at a time. Where they shouldn't be doing things that they probably shouldn't be doing. It's probably because the tall has been forced to be there doesn't feel comfortable. Leaving being able to go anyplace else. And so usually askew if you if you count look and looks funny and seems. Does not -- it probably he has. But a lot of times it's it's a lot more difficult as maybe the person by themselves and you know persons around the corner and McCrory in and you don't see that. You at the moment that is that is the most difficult thing as part of this is we've been working on we can we can get the earth and we were working to get the walls as. As best we can't we we can we can ride on well. We can. View of the tools to law enforcement we can give the tools of the prosecutors we can try to protect the victims in terms of affirmative defenses expose humans and all the things that we talked about. The two pieces of the puzzle that we're. That I've been really focusing on now. It is law enforcement training in criminal justice education and awareness so we can we can do -- -- talking about -- distinguish between the victim in the criminal. And then the -- services to make sure that the people who are victims get the help that day. You know I read the story of climbing green -- who is sent incredible woman who works with -- house which is the home now in New Orleans for adults. Not not children but adults and she made the comment that she had. Been arrested a hundred times. Before they finally understood she was the victim. But not not not only. Understanding. The person as a victim. And having the laws on the books to distinguish between -- giving the ability for law enforcement in the course of distinguish because. Both forehand all law enforcement in the courts have their hands ties because the law doesn't distinguish it doesn't allow the ability for the victims to claim victim status. And the second piece in which you mentioned having the law enforcement. And the DA's. And the judges identify this person as a evict them so they're not prosecuted and not. -- was like -- And then the third -- which is also important is. You even if you don't fossil as a victim and the laws are employees of the Obama is victim thereby wrecking Osmond -- the victim and they're not prosecuted and they don't go to jail. Where they gonna go where they can do all they know is -- all they are able. To to do to fend for themselves is back -- on the street. They may not have an educational background that men have a job they might not have a place to go to my family no food -- -- no shelter. So they have no choice but to be back on the street. And so the third piece of the puzzle is to provide an avenue to rehabilitate the people. Well -- like -- house. Which provides people with the health care mental health care he gives them job training. Gives them food and provides a roof over their head. So that in the course of a period of time you can and hope so Juan. Give back. On the right track and they're not back on -- getting arrested over and over and over again. You know to heartbreak controversial. -- What about those who now will learn of this law who are doing it on their own and are just saying well he forced me into it. Well that's that's where the law enforcement of the DEA's that the lawyers in the and the judges come in place to be that would distinguish between two. We're we're from work we've tried or write the laws as balanced as we can move we've tried to create special courts the courts on their own warming doesn't have particular -- who specialize in this who now has the ability and education trends and fondness. The law enforcement training -- go along way so we're drawn upon all the tools so that. The criminal justice system can distinguish and differentiate between who's really a victim and usually chrome. You know if if a young girl even though frightened because like you said. That the trafficker at the Panthers around the corner -- staring matter -- she's. To go up to a policeman and say I'm in trouble. He's forcing me to do this to have them the police officers trained to say yes and and safer. Get her away from him that's that to me is the huge thing. That that's that's a huge thing. And I have the victim know that they're not just going to be put back on the street. And as this has been a big education and I think if you talk a lot of victims and not talk to a few now. One of the big things that. See that prevents them from coming forward to those. Knowing or not knowing that their someplace that they can go to get help. They they feel that they don't be right back out on the street the only thing that they know it is. Someone's out there though given food given shelter in exchange they have to do these things that they wouldn't otherwise do. And that's the only world that they know. To educate them to make them aware that there are places where that they can go to get help so that they can get out of that world is a big -- You know I still have that image when you talk about trafficking and me talk about big events here in in New Orleans we have so often. Of you know some guy from somewhere just bringing him this stable of women. To hit the streets. Well and that does happen. The Elmo for these type of operations is now as obviously you have people who are dependent. On the trafficker. -- while at times it is women children from out of town because if someone in town. Would -- who comes from in town. Is more likely have family friends places they know people that they know so that there's an opportunity for them to get away. Now and I'll always able to. But if you take somebody. Out of state -- you know a country without a stay out of town. Where they don't know anybody enough familiar with the area they don't know where where to go what to do. And that's typically happens. Stay with us everyone and give us a call 260187. Day. As we continue our talk about human trafficking right after this -- clear about the state representative Neil Abramson we're talking about human trafficking. And it's happening right here in New Orleans let's go to Sammy in the marinate salmon. I'll hello. To it's a pleasure. -- I've admired you for many years Q. And now that your your your blood pressure -- To. I'm a little guy I worked in the first quarter mile Mark Chandler and -- seen I've actually seen effort here and Japanese. -- what I would ask. Your is what you look like you'll need you know. Besides you can metal bar. I'm actually literally seen. You know -- -- -- from the states production trick. Let me turn the -- and where they'll meet you at all. -- -- So you'd be you'd see. -- young people. Really being brutalized. Absolutely. Absolutely. And an end and made that age speechwriter and try and you know like are -- you'd ever -- -- sort of like. Light like my clients and customers at LaGuardia. Deep pocketed more. -- -- -- And seamlessly and and -- -- these older people are out there and they are turning to -- and young -- out there. And nobody in the big Mac or -- you know like -- born. In Kenya and toward controlling media -- were -- like. It's like. Well you know. But again. How are you still. Reports of police. And I -- That that's one of the things that we worked on with respect to the law enforcement training is to try to educate the law enforcement about what this is and -- in it it's something more than. Just people come up on the street is more than just people vote consenting to these things this is actually human trafficking this is actually people people kids who will be forced to do that. And so the effort is on the way from my part to make sure that the police have the education and training to identify them and recognize and handle it reported to the police. You really are the eyes and -- When you don't answer. Hardly -- -- in the -- and later. You know behind my back because like a little. You know and then Larry. Children that you eat it charitably. They're quite well you know it what is there. There over there training gonna change. Well listen -- thank you very much and thank you for caring cassettes really which. Account that you do care that must be a very bad thing thank you again -- He brings up a good point all of us need to may be as we learn about this. More and more were eyes will be looking at things differently. -- thousand wounded more awareness. The more tension that gets. The more people be able of them five reported to the police food and again and I keep coming back to a because I've seen in the last. Six years that I've been working on the house. Is education and training and awareness. Our first effort was to put the laws on the books to make sure that the laws were good and useful. -- law enforcement take care of the victims to punish the criminals. And then we've been turning our attention and make sure that that's useful if you could have the best laws on the books that that you want. It if they're not being used because people don't know what to look for. Than that this is not worth anything and so that's why we have now finally been put in place. Law enforcement training specialized courts and all the different parts of the criminal justice system in terms of education and training. So that we can take it to the next level and actually use the laws and enforce laws that we now on the books. -- it's a big it's really a societal change in our thinking about prostitution. Because before it -- Sammy or somebody else to see. Situation. You would assume that they're in agreement. The -- him an end and most people as a human to me talk about prostitution. -- think of consensual. Wrong and it's against the law but is consensual. Who what we're now dealing with a group of people moving force women and children who have been forced to do things. And that's what we're trump -- what is the punishment for someone -- convicted of trafficking. Lived punishment differs we have very harsh penalties because what we're talking about now is generally not not a one off situation. Not people who are consuming to a -- having usually a person a trafficker who usually doesn't have just one victim has a number of victims that they're using. And this is an orchestrated almost business -- That's usually a lot of money is involved and so we have very harsh penalties it can be up to thirty years in jail for adult victims and fifty years in jail. And if you -- trafficking children. And there's different. Monetary -- that that that come with -- and so it's -- graduated scale depending if it's adult victims or children victims as to what punishments. And you know again I think they're probably people out there saying to themselves well why can't these girls just run. And and it's just not that simple. It's it's it's not that simple because where they gonna run to and if they run up to the police officer for example. Is a police dogs are going to be able to down upon them as a victim and take them and get the help that they need is the images turn them away because he doesn't know. Does it feel like he doesn't have the ability to take command. You have to think about the victims mindset and haven't talked a number of victims. They're very worried. That there isn't a place that will take them down there isn't a place that they can go to get -- -- so they're back out on the street. And that their traffic refined sound policies that they've done this. Imagine the punishment the Richard retribution that comes with that. Physically emotionally. And on and on and on so it's not as easy as anomalous amounts. So -- built from -- are we sat with lines. I'm hoping now. That the walls -- very good there's always room for improvement -- says. Since I started down this past six years. In four of those six years I've had a build human trafficking a story of the first 12000 -- -- came back with only 22 and one point 1212014. And every year. We've moved up the rankings -- different groups that ranks states based on the laws of human trafficking. And before output though. You don't want to vote in 2000 I'm I'm I'm sure what are right he was. Just by putting a law on the book deal with human trafficking of children 2000 we jumped up to a C. While and over the course -- -- we now have an a and that was before this last year's bill and we were second in the country so we went from who knows where the ball on the list. And in point thirteen we were number two in the country and we have in -- but we still had ways to go in point fourteen and we came back. -- hope we're we're going to be number one when the Tony fourteen rankings. Come out. But the I think what we need to continue to do. Is the education training and more more victims services ams and that's the hardest part right. I can't thank you and upstate representative Neil Abramson. For what you have done and for being on -- -- they think have very very much we'll be right back.