Working as a prostitute in Chicago decades ago, Beth Jacobs said she frequently was arrested, caught by both undercover stings and uniformed police officers, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “My pimp never went to jail and I went all the time, because I was the one that was out there,” said Jacobs, who now works for Breaking Free, an organization in St. Paul aimed at helping women out of prostitution. It’s a pattern often true in Minnesota, says a new report. Changing that pattern to place pimps and customers in greater jeopardy is one of more than two dozen recommendations.
Other suggestions include increased funding for programs to help those who are trafficked and increased training for police, prosecutors and others in the legal system to understand what constitutes trafficking under state and federal law. “Our mandate was to make really clear recommendations about how this state can better respond to trafficked persons — and there are lots of gaps” in the system, said Cheryl Thomas, of the non-profit Advocates for Human Rights in Minneapolis. The group produced the report, which was commissioned by the state Human Trafficking Task Force. Those who study trafficking say the number of victims is always under-reported. A 2007 report found service providers had helped 637 sex trafficking victims over three years.