State lawmakers, survivors discuss human trafficking

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Officials came together to figure out how to reduce the number of human trafficking cases, as part of Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

State lawmakers wanted to do more than simply address the problem. Instead, they wanted to take it a step further by searching for solutions. Part of that search involved hearing from survivors themselves.

Trafficking survivor Ruth Rondon still gets emotional when she sees it happening to others after decades of abuse and being failed by the criminal justice system.

“I’ll see a story about how a cop or somebody is going after some rapist,” Rondon says. “And it’s hard for me, because nobody was able to do that for me.”

The experience of being trafficked and manipulated from a young age compelled her to speak in front of two house committees today, sharing painful stories of how she was trafficked for years and how she fought to heal and move forward.

“For me it was a very long process,” Rondon told committee members. “It took years for me to get to where I’m at today. But I don’t see it taking that long for the next generation.”

Speakers pushed for more research and resources. Assistant Attorney General Kelly Carter says the solution includes putting measures in place for survivors with criminal records.

“It allows the court to clear that victim’s record, again, of those criminal actions that were not committed with a mens rea,” Carter says, “but were committed as a result of the forced fraud and coercion of their trafficker.”

By the end of the meeting, everyone understood that human trafficking is a very complex problem that will take many solutions. But all of the people involved are committed to stopping it until there are no more victims, only survivors.

In 2011 the Attorney General’s Office launched the state’s first Human Trafficking Unit to prosecute human traffickers under state law. Since then, the Unit has charged and convicted dozens of individuals on human trafficking charges. 

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