At the top of the priority list: faster access for victims to recovery services like shelters or drug treatments.
The report also outlines plans to increase public awareness and police access to information about tracking human trafficking, as well as a legal path for victims to have their records expunged of charges that came about as a result of being forced into the sex trade.
“Ohio’s progress in combating trafficking is both exciting and sobering,” wrote Ohio’s Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Elizabeth Ranade Janis in the introduction to the report. “More victims have access to justice and more offenders are being punished... However these efforts confirm what advocates already know—more victims will come out of the shadows of exploitation, more intensive law enforcement investigations will be necessary to lock up traffickers, and more trauma-informed care will need to be made available for survivors.”
The recommendations will be implemented by state-level and county-level departments and officials, like the Department of Medicaid, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Job and Family Services.
Three years ago, the task force made 26 other recommendations, almost all of which have been put into place by now. For example, in 2012 the state penalty for human trafficking was upgraded to a first-degree felony, which can come with up to 15 years in prison.
The report estimates roughly one thousand children – mostly young girls between 13 and 18 years of age – are forced into sex trafficking in Ohio each year. Other victims might be forced into sweatshop-like jobs.
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