UPDATE: SC prosecutor releases human trafficking plan

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News 12 First at Five/ June 12, 2014

MGN Online

SOUTH CAROLINA, --Human trafficking is an issue that's been getting a lot of attention the past couple of years, and now, South Carolina is doing something about it.

Attorney General Alan Wilson announced a massive statewide plan that's been in the works for a year and a half now. A 60 page document outlines everything the task force wants to put in to place.

It's something the non-profit, I-Care is excited about. They've been working for three years to get people to realize human trafficking is a real problem here.

Michelle Lafontaine volunteers for I-Care. She says, "Just in the last four months there's been interaction with seven women and girls who needed assistance from us, and I think that's just a small tip of the iceberg of what's really going on here."

It's been difficult to find out how deep the iceberg really goes, because it's a problem that's lived in the shadows for so long. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson took a huge step towards helping victims by rolling out a plan to get a grip on the problem.

The Human Trafficking Task Force recommends the state put a number of things in place: creating a trafficking hotline and website, collecting more data on the issue, providing more training, tapping into more funding, building emergency shelters for victims, and the 64 page plan details several more action items.

The I-Care team is thrilled with South Carolina's plan. They've already been working to build an emergency shelter for victims. Lafontaine says, "We are currently closing on the land, so that was a huge step working with contractors to donate materials."

They break ground in the fall, and the shelter will be a national model, one of the only ones in the country that allows both women and their children to stay.

"We can't keep sliding this under the rug, thinking it's not our problem, because we do have a role to play," Lafontaine says.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's top prosecutor has released a plan on how the state will address the problem of human trafficking.

Attorney General Alan Wilson on Thursday unveiled the efforts of the state's Human Trafficking Task Force. The plan makes recommendations like creating a website with public information about the issue and instituting specific training for law enforcement agencies.

State legislators passed a measure in 2012 intended to strengthen South Carolina's anti-human-trafficking laws. The law also created the taskforce, which is chaired by Wilson, and gave the prosecutor more tools to fight the selling people for sex or labor.

For more than a year, the panel has been reviewing how other states address human trafficking and evaluating which plans might work best for South Carolina.

(Copyright 2014, The Associated Press)

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