Mississippi Earns a B for Human Trafficking Laws

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Mississippi Earns a B for Human Trafficking Laws
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Laws to protect child victims of sex trafficking are earning Mississippi passing grades on a national report. Although improving, advocates say there's more work to be done. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.

Mississippi is improving in an annual report card on sex trafficking. The state now gets a B for its investigation and prosecution of sex traffickers. The national report from Shared Hope International says Mississippi was a D just five years ago. Although passing, Mississippi loses points on the recent report because there are no laws requiring statewide human trafficking training for law enforcement.

Paula Broome is with the Attorney Generals Office.
"Law enforcement officers first have to be trained well enough to identify the crime as trafficking, know how to conduct the investigation, so when they turn over a case to the DA's office, they're turning over a human trafficking case. Not a prostitution case and not a drug case that's really masked as a trafficking case," said Broome.

Selika Funchess of Jackson says her daughter was kidnapped and forced into sex trafficking in 2012. She believes if investigators had been trained then, she could have found her daughter sooner.

"I had never heard of trafficking. None of the investigators or officers ever used the word trafficking when we communicated back and forth. The word trafficking was never used it was always missing person," said Funchess.

January is national human trafficking awareness month.