A series of initiatives focused on combating human trafficking was introduced to lawmakers on Thursday.
The initiatives aim to pursue innovative strategies and harsher punishments for traffickers.
“As governor, I am committed to ensuring that not only are the violent perpetrators brought to justice, but that we also provide the resources necessary to help survivors recover and rebuild their lives,” said Governor Hogan. “One of our most important responsibilities is to protect Maryland citizens, and human trafficking strikes at the very fiber of our Maryland communities, our families, and our children.”
The following measures were implemented on Wednesday:
- A new executive order creating an Anti-Human Trafficking Director position
- A new crime, research, and innovation center
- Strengthened data collection
- An updated identification protocol
- $5 million in funding for anti-human trafficking efforts
- Legislation to categorize felony human trafficking as a violent crime.
- More than $4 million in new grants to target gangs and violent criminal networks as part of the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network
The Maryland Crime Research and Innovation Center will partner with the University of Maryland so students in the School of Public Policy can focus on developing law enforcement solutions, victim services, prevention efforts, and other criminal justice programs.
The $5 million in funding will provide human trafficking victims with direct services such as emergency shelter; 24-hour talk-line; trauma-informed therapy; peer groups; support services including housing assistance, job training, life skills, economic empowerment, GED and vocational training; assistance obtaining a driver’s license or transportation to and from appointments, court appearance; legal advocacy; victim advocacy and system navigation; and street outreach.
“While it is critical for us to aggressively pursue human traffickers, we must never, ever forget the victims,” said Governor Hogan. “This type of crime shatters a person’s sense of security. Much too often it can leave wounds that are often unseen and which sometimes never truly or fully heal. In Maryland, we have worked hard to create a system of justice which restores victims and strengthens communities, a system that empowers victims, gives them the resources they need to become safe, self-sufficient, and better informed, and works to break the cycle of criminal victimization.”