Jacksonville ranked 48 out of the top 100 most populous cities from 2007 to 2016, according to the most recent reports from the National Human Trafficking Center.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery by which traffickers profit from the control and exploitation of others. Under U.S. law human trafficking is defined as the transporting, soliciting, recruiting, harboring, providing or obtaining of another person for transport; for the purposes of forced labor, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation using force, fraud and/or coercion.
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. Eighty-one percent of them are trapped in forced labor, 25% of them are children, 75% are women and girls. It is estimated by Florida Health that human trafficking in the U.S. is somewhere between 14,500 and 17,500 people annually.
Crystal Freed, who helped found Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition, explained to Melissa Ross on First Coast Connect that it’s not just “unsavory establishments,” that participate in labor trafficking but it can be “restaurants that we go to. It’s salons. It’s construction. These people are ordinary people.”
The local Jacksonville nonprofit Rethreaded helps women who have been trafficked start a new life by creating innovative products that have been upcycled. Upcycling refers to recycling material into something of higher quality. A prime example is the high-end fashion products that Rethreaded makes from old Southwest Airlines leather seats.
Renata Bryan, Survivor & Finance and Administration Lead of Rethreaded, was the first person in Rethreaded to have her criminal record expunged. “I couldn’t find jobs, couldn’t find no one to give me a place to live, just so many things people need just to live.” Renata explained on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross about her case. Brent Woody, Lead Counsel and Executive Director of the Justice Restoration Center, worked on her case. It took two years to go through the process.
Related: Listen to the full interview with Freed and Bryan on First Coast Connect.
The number of sexual and labor trafficking cases being prosecuted locally has been on the upswing for the past several years, due in part to increasing tips from the community, said Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.
If you have information regarding suspected human trafficking of a child in Florida , call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).
If you have information regarding suspected human trafficking of an adult anywhere in the United States or of a child outside of Florida call the National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE): To get help for victims and survivors of human trafficking or to connect with local services.
Amanda Brannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6317.