A plan to set up a child sex-trafficking victim services program is being rolled out in Texas with the first set of grants being announced by Gov. Greg Abbott.
The Texas Tribune recently detailed $133 million in grants that the state’s criminal justice division is allocating to law enforcement agencies and victims’ assistance programs in seven regions of Texas.
The program is an acknowledgement of the extent of the human trafficking problem in Texas. Figures from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center tip line found Texas had the second highest number of calls about the trafficking issue in the country after California in 2013. The City of Houston has more victims of human trafficking than any other location in the country, according to the statistics.
The crime is underreported to such an extent that FBI agents state calls to a national tip line provide an important indication of the size and location of the problem. This year there have been 833 calls to the line to report human trafficking in Texas and 214 cases reported.
Under the latest initiative, state and federal dollars will be allocated to law enforcement agencies, domestic violence shelters, initiatives that help victims of child sex trafficking and other governmental entities and nonprofit organizations in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, and Waco, according to the governor’s office.
The Texas Tribune reported on how the grants are the initial step in Abbott’s plan to create a child sex-trafficking victim services program within his office. In the longer term, the service would lead to the setting up of a statewide network of services to meet those victims’ needs which are often substantial.
“Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of all Texans,” Abbott said in a statement released this month. “These grants will help ensure that in every community, victims of domestic violence and child sex trafficking will have a safe place to turn in order to remove and prosecute abusers, prevent domestic violence and allow victims the therapy, shelter and education resources needed to flourish.”
Under the Texas Penal Code, trafficking is a second-degree felony that carries a sentence of two to 20 years imprisonment on a guilty conviction. If the victims are under the age of 14, or if the commission of the offense leads to a death, the offense becomes a first-degree felony with a sentence of five to 99 years imprisonment.
Given the seriousness of this offense, you should always hire an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney if you are charged with crimes of this nature.