State Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, today underscored the significant progress Tennessee has made to combat human trafficking and support victims across the state.
The U.S. Department of State estimates that there are 27.6 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. It is the second-fastest growing criminal industry just behind drug trafficking, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
“Human trafficking cases are appalling and heartbreaking,” Terry said. “My colleagues and I in the General Assembly have worked diligently on ways to better identify, stop and prevent these horrific crimes from happening in our state. We must not only hold those responsible for these heinous acts accountable, but we must also make sure to support victims as well.”
In recent years, state lawmakers have increased the punishment for multiple crimes related to human trafficking, ensured those convicted of sex trafficking are ineligible for early parole or release, and allowed individuals to use deadly force in self-defense when threatened with “grave sexual abuse” like rape.
Legislation was also passed earlier this year to allow victims of human trafficking to be eligible to receive financial assistance from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund for personal injury or loss incurred as a result of the crime. Efforts to improve responses and support services available to victims are also underway.
“While there is more work that can be done in these areas, I am proud to see Tennessee recognized as a national leader for our efforts to combat human trafficking,” Terry said. “We must continue to increase public awareness while also making sure criminals know these crimes will not be tolerated in our state.”
Anyone who suspects an individual may be a victim of human trafficking should call the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-55-TNHTH (86484). According to the TBI, the hotline received 1,291 tips statewide last year – a 5% increase from 2021 and 183% more than in 2018.
Additional information and resources about human trafficking in Tennessee can be found online at www.ItHasToStop.com.