Lawmakers, law enforcement back proposed human trafficking bill

Published: Jan. 7, 2015 at 12:12 AM EST|Updated: May. 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM EDT
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South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is looking to put a stop to human trafficking in South Carolina.

Wilson, along with lawmakers, law enforcement, and advocates, brought human trafficking into the spotlight just last year with the creation of a massive task force. Although awareness on the topic has increased, there is little the state can do to go after human traffickers.

"The grand jury can only investigate crimes it has jurisdiction to pursue," Wilson said during his press conference today. "Human trafficking is not one of the listed crimes."

The proposed human trafficking bill introduced by Democratic state Senator Brad Hutto has received bi-partisan support and would give the grand jury the power to go after human traffickers in the state. It would also let detectives and investigators look into cases across county lines.

"I don't know who you have in your mind when you hear there are victims of this crime," Hutto said, "but I can tell you who they are- they are young boys and mainly young girls from South Carolina."

Human trafficking, according to Wilson is usually thought of as prostitution or other forms of sex slavery, but he also noted that it can be as simple as exploiting a person for labor which he says is an issue in rural parts of the state.

In June 2014, Wilson unveiled a five-step plan to help combat human trafficking in the state.

The plan sets guidelines for agencies throughout the state that are involved with human trafficking. The groups are working together to help identify ways to detect, prevent, and prosecute human trafficking—as well as educate law enforcement, first responders, medical staff in how to deal with the aftermath of it. The attorney general says they are also working to educate the public so people can avoid becoming a victim or detect human trafficking.

Wilson hopes to have the bill passed and on Governor Nikki Haley's desk by February.

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