Home > News & Reports
Attorney General Mills calls for new approach toward human trafficking and its victims
November 13, 2015
(AUGUSTA) Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills today called for a shift in how society views and handles the crime of Human Trafficking, which is a modern form of slavery. At the Maine Human Trafficking Summit in Northport, Attorney General Mills likened attitudes toward victims of human trafficking to how society once viewed victims of domestic violence – a “blame the victim” approach that must change.
“There is no free will in the trafficking trade,” Attorney General Mills said. “There is, instead, dependency, isolation; power and control tactics that include threats, degradation, financial constraint, physical and emotional manipulation. And, like domestic violence, trafficking involves victims who are trapped, who cannot escape.”
Attorney General Mills noted that Maine has taken some steps to address the crime of human trafficking, but that more needs to be done to identify and assist victims. Pointing to the links between the drug trade, drug addiction and sex trafficking, Mills called for dedicating more resources for specialized shelters for victims and an increase in the availability of detox beds and medical care to assist those who are trying to escape the trap that drug addiction has on them and returns them to sex trafficking. Many victims are no longer eligible for MaineCare.
“We can and must create an escape route for victims, a ‘victim protection plan:’ food, shelter, a place to go, clothing, sometimes a detox bed, and help finding a new life — not something that is gained or created in an instant,” said Mills. “Until we reduce the demand for sex for hire, there will always be a market, feeding the underground economy of drugs, guns and violent crime and human trafficking that robs the individual of physical safety, dignity and human will.”
The Attorney General’s Office has convened a Human Trafficking work group since 2007 with the US Attorney’s Office, victim advocates, state and local law enforcement, legislators, Immigration & Customs officials, Dept. of Justice Civil Rights personnel, and others. The all voluntary effort has helped to develop training for law enforcement and community organizations, develop public awareness campaigns, collect data, and review relevant laws and regulations to determine if they need improvement. In 2010 the working group helped to develop a training curriculum for the Maine Criminal Justice Academy as part of every new officer’s training. The working group has also sought to increase outreach to those who are likely to encounter evidence of human trafficking not just the police, but postal delivery people, real estate agents, cosmetologists, hair dressers, landlords and others who can be alert to signs that someone is being held to do the bidding of others. One of the possible recommendations from the summit may be to support the working group’s effort with a full-time coordinator position.
“Awareness campaigns are important, but we don’t need more talk or a ribbon campaign to make progress on this scourge of human trafficking,” said Attorney General Mills. “We need to make progress on reducing demand and helping victims escape the trap of sex trafficking and drug addiction in the coming months by taking action in our communities.”
In remarks to the Maine Summit on Human Trafficking AG Mills cites progress in changing laws, but calls for improvements in assisting victims and stemming the demand