The Center for Violence Prevention says a new shelter will provide rehabilitation for human trafficking victims across the state. MPB's Alexis Ware reports.
The Tower, a new human trafficking shelter in Mississippi, will offer long-term housing for victims of human trafficking. The shelter will provide the women with case management, advocacy, and therapeutic services such as yoga and therapy.
Sandy Middleton is the executive director for the Center for Violence Prevention. She says victims of human trafficking, which includes forced labor or sex services, should not be criminalized.
"We want to change their perspective from it being a crime and looking down our nose at somebody who is identified as a prostitute to looking at the potential that they could just be there as a victim."
There have been about 24 reported cases of human trafficking in Mississippi this year, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline website. Middleton says many Mississippians don't know this is a problem in the state.
The Center is working with local law enforcement and health providers to raise awareness and offer victims the best help options. Dean Scott is the Assistant Chief for the Pearl Police Department. He says new training has taught officers ways to save sex workers.
"We actually have somewhere other than, and I hate to say it, to let them walk on down the street or put them in jail. That used to be the only thing we knew the only options we had we thought. But now as everything else, times have changed. W have outlets we have people that will step up and give us alternatives."
The shelter is now open and serving victims from all over Mississippi. .