Heise Helps Announce Formation of Advisory Commission on Human Trafficking
Commission will tackle crimes through effort between legislators, law enforcement and advocates.
Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, along with state Attorney General Bill Schuette and several other state lawmakers, announced last week the formation of the Michigan Advisory Commission on Human Trafficking to develop a comprehensive set of laws and policies to combat this growing crime problem, according to a news release from Heise.
Heise represents the 20th District in the Michigan House of Representatives, which includes Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Canton Township, Northville Township and Northville.
"The goals of this commission are to raise awareness, deter human trafficking with tougher laws, protect victims' rights, and to develop policies within all levels of government to fight the problem in a coordinated way," Heise said. "Because this crime is so complex, we need to ensure that we are tackling all facets of the problem. In the past trafficking was handled as a single crime of prostitution, exploitation or illegal immigration. This is short-sighted and often harms the victims of these crimes while letting the pimps and perpetrators get away.
"Human trafficking is a horrific crime that isn't just a problem for other parts of the world. It has sadly become a serious illegal activity right here in Michigan," Heise said. "Unfortunately it covers everything from the prostitution of youngsters to the enslavement of adults."
Reports show that nearly 40 percent, almost 300,000 victims, of trafficking cases involve the sexual exploitation of children, the news release indicated.
"As the father of two teenage daughters, this is personal for me. We, as a society have a moral obligation to fight this atrocity right here, right now," Heise said.
The commission includes members from the office of the Attorney General, the state House and Senate, the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services, Corrections, and State Police, and various federal government agencies. Non-governmental groups include anti-human trafficking academics from the Harvard University School of Government, University of Michigan, and Michigan State.
Other legislators on the task force include state Reps. Eileen Kowall, R-White Lake; Nancy Jenkins, R- Clayton; Dale Zorn, R- Ida; and Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford. Senators include Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton; and Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor.
"We want to bring together the best minds from the state, law enforcement, and academia to develop the best laws and policies that we can on this issue. It is an unprecedented and comprehensive response," he said.
Heise is chairman of the House Committee on Criminal Justice. Schuette will come before that committee next week, Wednesday, to give a presentation about the commission.
Residents can educate themselves by visiting the human trafficking section of the Attorney General's website, www.michigan.gov/humantrafficking, to be able to recognize the signs of traffickers and provide tips to law enforcement.