State senator looks for answers to prosecute human traffickers, help victims

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Before heading into the special crime session promised by the governor, one state senator is trying to bring attention to human trafficking.

Sen. Beth Mizell has been a supporter of human trafficking victims for years. Through the Task Force on Human Trafficking Arrests she created in 2023, she hoped to find ways to make sure traffickers are prosecuted. In her quest to help victims through officer training and other measures, she was hung up on how many traffickers actually end up in jail.

“I know when East Baton Rouge said there were only 33 cases that were prosecuted in 10 years. That’s really incredible,” Mizell said.

With inconsistent reporting issues, agencies having different definitions of victims, and traffickers often being allowed lesser charges, Mizell is still looking for answers.

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“We’ve got to put a value as a state on the way we treat women who are victimized and not turn a horrendous trafficking into a pandering type situation. We’ve got to call it what it is,” Mizell said.

The Franklinton Republican has brought legislation in the past to also track rape kits in the state crime lab. Bills she hopes to bring in the special crime session would focus on helping victims of assault.

“There’s a lot of obvious gaps in prosecution and the way we treat victims of sexual assault,” Mizell said.

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The human trafficking task force also revealed the need for law enforcement to flag possible trafficking victims who have been arrested for other crimes to get them the resources they need.

The special crime session is anticipated to be called in the coming weeks, with it slated to take place in late February.

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