human trafficking

Lawmakers Renew Push To Curb Human Trafficking

Mar 29, 2019
News Service of Florida

A year ago, state Sen. Lauren Book wanted to allow human-trafficking survivors to sue hotels that turned a blind eye to abuse. But after that idea did not pass, the Plantation Democrat is back with a different proposal: training hotel employees to spot trafficking.

headshot of Crystal Freed
Crystal Freed

Jacksonville attorney Crystal Freed is a nationally recognized leader in human trafficking advocacy.

After growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, she came to the U.S. as a “dreamer,” the daughter of an undocumented worker.

Now, for the first time, she’s sharing how her own violent childhood inspired her life’s mission: to help sex and labor-trafficking survivors.

Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

The Jacksonville City Council is advancing a bill that would add hotels to the list of businesses required to post human-trafficking awareness signs. The council’s Neighborhoods Community Service, Public Health and Safety committee approved it Monday morning.

Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

A Jacksonville City Councilman wants more types of businesses to be required to post human-trafficking awareness signs.

Although a 2015 state law requires the signs in strip clubs and massage parlors, labor trafficking often happens in different types of establishments.  

Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said more resources for human trafficking victims and community awareness are essential to addressing the problem in Jacksonville.

Several City Council members met with State Attorney Melissa Nelson, Sheriff Mike William, and others Monday to talk about how to help.


Bonnie Zerr / WJCT

On this episode of Redux, we examine the line between prostitution and human trafficking by attempting to answer this one question: Do Prostitution Arrests Help Women Get Out Of Sex Trade?

We also have an update on the rebuilding effort of County Dock and other structures destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. And finally, the Greatest Show on Earth is coming to end, and we have the first female ringmaster in studio.

But first, we visit businesses at Jacksonville's iconic Landing after gunfire leaves one teenager dead on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT News

Northeast Florida State Attorney Melissa Nelson announced Tuesday her office is creating a new division to go after human traffickers on the First Coast.

“Because these crimes intersect with almost all different areas of the criminal justice system including drug trafficking, sexual assault and others,” Nelson said. “And because these crimes affect some of the most vulnerable in our community, adding these dedicated resources is a way that we can help those preyed upon to end this vicious cycle.”

Mariah Nicol Photography

Over the past five years, Jacksonville police have made about 1,000 arrests for buying, selling, or soliciting sex. Eight of every 10 arrests involved female offenders — many for second or third offenses.  

Jacksonville police officers said the threat of arrest for prostitution is a deterrent, but other cities are focusing less on jail time.

cat toys, dog toys
Rethreaded

The Jacksonville non-profit Rethreaded is issuing a challenge for shoppers: Support survivors of human trafficking with your purchases this holiday season.

News4Jax

A law named after a St. Augustine murder victim will go into effect Saturday. Carl’s Law increases penalties when crime victims have disabilities. It’s named for Carl Starke, who had autism. 

 State of Downtown

The latest "State of Downtown" report from Downtown Vision, Inc. details how Jacksonville's city center has fared over the last year.

The last 18 months have seen new development projects, retail recruitment, changing demographics, and more in the urban core.

Downtown Vision, Inc. executive director Jake Gordon joins us to discuss the report and what the future could look like for downtown Jacksonville.

Ray Hollister / WJCT News

Jacksonville City Council gave the go ahead for voters Tuesday to decide whether they want the Better Jacksonville 1/2-cent sales tax to be extended for 30 more years. 

The money would be used to pay off the city’s $2.6 billion pension debt.

Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

Jacksonville officials are trying to figure out how to enforce a new state law requiring certain businesses to post human-trafficking awareness signs.

Under a proposed bill, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office would issue $500 citations to businesses not in compliance. The state law requires strip clubs and massage parlors to post the signs.


Child Abuse Prevention

April marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In Duval County, there were 2,471 reports of child abuse last year. That includes reports of neglect, physical and sexual abuse combined.

Out of the 735 children who were removed and sent to Foster Care in that same time period, 307 were removed due to neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse.

Jacksonville City Hall
Ray Hollister / WJCT News

The Jacksonville City Council is looking at how to enforce a new state law requiring human-trafficking-awareness signs to be posted in certain businesses and public areas.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri is sponsoring a bill requiring businesses to pay up to $500 if they don’t post a sign.

The required sign urges people to call a national human-trafficking hotline if they or someone they know are being forced to engage in work or prostitution and can’t leave.

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