Florida: Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Additional Actions to Combat Human Trafficking and Support Survivors
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. ~ Coral Gables, Fla. - In a press conference today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced new measures being taken in Florida to combat human trafficking. The governor has approved a budget of $4.9 million for the 2024-2025 fiscal year to expand access to emergency beds for victims of human trafficking and provide additional support staff. He has also established a $900,000 grant opportunity through the Department of Children and Families to enhance training for law enforcement officers who respond to human trafficking incidents.

Governor DeSantis stated, "Florida is being proactive about stopping human trafficking. Though our open southern border invites criminal activity like human trafficking, states can combat it with stronger penalties and increased training for emergency personnel to recognize and respond to trafficking." He emphasized the importance of taking action against this pervasive evil.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, who has been involved in the fight against human trafficking for over 15 years, expressed her support for the governor's actions. She stated that Florida has made significant progress in combating this issue and is recognized as a leader across the nation. She added, "Today's announcement reaffirms that Florida continues to lead the way in investing in prevention, enhancing training, and providing meaningful services that will help victims get back on their feet and start to rebuild their lives again with dignity and opportunity."

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Attorney General Ashley Moody also praised Governor DeSantis' efforts in fighting human trafficking. She said, "Governor DeSantis is a strong ally in our fight to end human trafficking, and I am grateful for the resources Florida is dedicating to helping victims of trafficking become survivors." She also highlighted the addition of the statewide reporting number on mandatory awareness signs across Florida as an important step towards raising awareness.

Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris echoed these sentiments and stated that under Governor DeSantis' leadership, Florida will continue to lead the nation in the fight against human trafficking. She added, "Our Department will continue our work to support survivors, and with the help of our partners will ensure that the right services are available to meet their needs."

In addition to these measures, Governor DeSantis also signed HB 7063, which aims to continue the development and coordination of state and local law enforcement and social services response frameworks to fighting trafficking. The bill also requires various public facilities or establishments that may encounter human trafficking activity to display awareness signs with telephone numbers for either the National or Florida Human Trafficking Hotlines. It also increases punishments for failure to do so.

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Furthermore, the bill prohibits minors from being employed by adult entertainment establishments in any role and increases penalties for those who knowingly violate this law.

These actions follow legislation signed last month by Governor DeSantis to combat human trafficking and prevent child grooming in Florida. This includes bills such as HB 305, which expands evidence that can be presented in sex-abuse cases involving minors and increases penalties for those involved in sex trafficking of minors. Other bills include HB 1545, which protects children from grooming activities and other sexual offenses, HB 1131 which establishes a grant program for online sting operations targeting sexual predators, HB 1235 which creates stricter guidelines for sex offender registration, and SB 1224 which strengthens the role of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office.

Governor DeSantis has been a strong advocate for addressing this issue and last year championed legislation that instituted the death penalty for those convicted of child rape.

In conclusion, Governor DeSantis' actions demonstrate Florida's commitment to fighting human trafficking and providing support for victims. With these new measures in place, it is hoped that Florida will continue to lead the way in combatting this heinous crime.

Filed Under: Government, State

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