Kentucky receives landmark federal grant to protect, seek justice for victims
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 14, 2016) – Today Attorney General Andy Beshear and Catholic Charities of Louisville announced that federal grant funds totally $1.5 million will be coming to Kentucky to support new solutions in the fight against human trafficking.
Kentucky is one of only five states to receive an enhanced collaborative model grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The award is a first for both the Attorney General’s Office and Catholic Charities.
The two offices will receive the funds over three-years to intensify the work they are doing to hold offenders accountable and support victims of human trafficking, which includes sex and labor trafficking of all ages.
Each year in Kentucky reports of child trafficking continue to increase by almost 50 percent, climbing from 51 victims identified in 2013, to 125 victims identified in 2015.
“Human trafficking is a growing and gruesome crime – it has no place in our Commonwealth, Beshear said. “I am extremely proud that my office and Catholic Charities have been selected to receive this award that is going to help us support victims and continue to bring real solutions to the fight against human trafficking.”
“This funding will enhance collaboration between service providers and law enforcement, ensuring that human trafficking victims in the Commonwealth have access to the services they need to rebuild their lives, while traffickers are held accountable for their crimes,” said Catholic Charities Human Trafficking Manager Marissa Castellanos. “Kentucky is ready to take these additional steps forward in combatting human trafficking, and Catholic Charities is a committed partner in these efforts.”
Due to the increasing threat to children and Kentucky families, Beshear’s office and Catholic Charities requested grant funds to assist the Kentucky Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, law enforcement and victims.
The funds will be used to better research and collect human trafficking data; educate local law enforcement and prosecutors on victim-centered investigations and prosecutions; and increase direct victim services.
The statewide task force was created by advocates in 2013 to assist in the implementation of the Human Trafficking Victims Rights Protection Act that passed the General Assembly that year. The act strengthened penalties for traffickers, established a pathway to services for child victims and created a legal structure to bring about justice in human trafficking cases.
To date, the task force has relied upon experts who volunteer their time to advance human trafficking related policies and protocols.
The $1.5 million grant will allow the Attorney General’s office to directly support the task force by employing a specially trained investigator, who will focus on human trafficking cases, and a task force program manager.
Two of the core missions of Beshear’s Office are to prevent child abuse and seek justice for victims of crime. Since taking office Beshear has been working to remedy human trafficking in Kentucky.
He proposed new legislation earlier this year to strengthen Kentucky’s human trafficking laws and to allow the Attorney General’s office the ability to prosecute cases.
In May, his office assisted the Louisville Metro Police Department and advocates with human trafficking enforcement during Kentucky Derby events.
In September, Beshear announced that his office formed a partnership with the Truckers Against Trafficking Coalition to find new ways to offer training that helps commercial truck drivers and truck stop employees recognize and report human trafficking.
Since 2007, Catholic Charities has provided direct services and case management to more than 432 victims of sex or labor trafficking and trained more than 25,000 individuals. Its programs include a preventative 10-week workshop to adolescent girls who are at risk of being trafficked.
Beshear and Castellanos encourage human trafficking victims and anyone who suspects human trafficking to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.
To learn more about human trafficking and efforts to fight it visit Catholic Charities Rescue and Restore program website at http://www.rescueandrestoreky.org, or contact the Attorney General’s Office of Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention at 502-696-5300.