New Report Sheds Light on Human Trafficking in Michigan

"A 15-year-old who is forced to have sex is a victim, not a criminal."

A strong message from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette that sums up six months of meetings by the Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking.

  • The commission, which is headed by Schuette, released its 2013 report, Wednesday, demanding a new approach to fighting the issue in Michigan. "The fact is, what we need to do, is protect victims of human trafficking," said Schuette

  • That's what Schuette and Rep. Kurt Heise (R) told the House Criminal Justice Committee while introducing the report.

  • "We need to have a better way of addressing the issue, from both a law enforcement standpoint, tougher laws, tougher penalties. But also taking care of victims," said Heise, Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee and Co-Chair of the commission on human trafficking.

  • The recommendations including ways to record trafficking data, passing a 'Safe Harbor' law to protect victims and starting a state-wide campaign, plus much more. In total, there are 11 different recommendations in the report, which Rep. Heise says could translate into as many as 20 bills.

  • "We've had the FBI do raids here in Michigan, regarding human trafficking, so it's here," he said. In fact, a nationwide sweep, last summer, found ten trafficking victims in Detroit. That's the second highest in the country for a single city. Bridgette Carr, a commission member and Director of the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Clinic, has also seen cases in Lansing and Jackson and says these efforts will help those forced into illegal behavior.

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    "These recommendations are essential to push victims out of the "criminal" category and into the "victim" category," she said. Click on the image above to watch a FOX 47 video report.