Sweeping Changes In TN Sex-Trafficking Laws May Make State National Model


As sex trafficking has had newfound attention, Tennessee has developed one of the nation's most comprehensive anti-trafficking programs, The Tennessean reports. Twelve laws approved by legislators this year include harsher criminal penalties on traffickers, an extended window of time for prosecutors to bring charges, and the creation of a state trafficking task force to study and respond to the issue. The measures amplify a wave of attention since a statewide study in 2011 documented incidents of sex trafficking – which officials define as coercive adult prostitution and any sexual exploitation of children. “I would label this as sweeping changes,” said Margie Quin of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Since the 2011 study, the bureau has trained thousands of agents, and this year a coalition of women's groups funded promotions for the state's trafficking phone line for crime tips and victim assistance. And Nashville again will host a four-day conference on trafficking – beginning today – in which police, teachers and social workers will receive training. Of the laws going into effect July 1, Quin said one stood out: Authorities will be able to prosecute those paying for sex – the “johns” – as traffickers.

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