Texas has been the scene of a crusade against sex trafficking in recent years. However, a new report claims the vigorous campaign to shut down the illegal sex trade has left victims behind.
A recent article claimed the zeal of Texas’ leaders to clamp down on sex traffickers has not been accompanied by a drive to help the victims.
The allegations were made in an investigation in the Texas Tribune. It looked at a number of key areas and found services for victims were lacking. They included:
1 Funding for Victims’ Organizations
While Texas has many organizations that provide services like counseling and health care to victims of the sex trade, they get very little state money to operate.
The Tribune alluded to a law eight years ago that called for the distribution of up to $10 million in grants to victims’ help organizations. Lawmakers in Texas never appropriated the cash.
Spending Money for Vulnerable Children and Young People
Child Protective Services has been in trouble for many years in Texas as we detailed previously. The Department of Family and Protective Services requested $155 million from the legislature to boost payments to facilities that treat foster children who suffer from behavioral and emotional problems. This would include the victims of child sex trafficking.
The state pays about $260 a day to care for each foster child with high needs. The Tribune article stated the absolute minimum is about $300. The state’s payments are so low many foster facilities have closed their doors.
The Funding of Treatment Beds
The State of Texas offers no money for facilities that treat the victims of Texas’ sex trade. Instead, it’s reliant on the private sector. Texas has just one facility for the victims of sex trafficking, despite having one of the highest levels of trafficking in the country. Victims’ advocates say they should not have to raise money for the facilities with minimal state assistance.
The Tribune investigation revealed another shocking fact. Often the victims of sex trafficking in Texas wind up in jail because there’s nowhere else to go. It featured the case of a 17-year-old victim who ended up in Harris County Jail in Houston in for three months.
Child sex trafficking is a federal crime with serious consequences. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1591 sex trafficking of children is defined as:
“Causing a person to engage in a commercial sex act under certain statutorily enumerated conditions. A commercial sex act means any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person. The specific conditions are the use of force, fraud, or coercion, or conduct involving persons under the age of 18.”
A sex trafficking conviction will land you in federal prison for a long time. If you have been charged with this crime, it’s important to call our Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer at (682) 204-4066.