Human Trafficking Experts Don't Expect New OK Law to Have Impact

Thursday, May 1st 2014, 6:06 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma lawmakers hope to combat human trafficking in the state with a trio of laws targeting punishment for these kinds of crimes.

On paper, these laws look like ways to combat human trafficking but advocates say unless prosecutors throw the book at offenders, the laws don't change much in terms of what's happening out on the streets.

South Robinson Avenue has been long considered Oklahoma City's hotbed for prostitution and human trafficking.

"We're going to have stiffer penalties for the guys that we know that are pimps," said Dr. Lori Basey, No Boundaries International.

Dr. Basey from No Boundaries International has been on the ground battling human trafficking in OKC since 2011.

"The girls that are involved and victimized almost serve a life sentence the fact that once we move them physically out of human trafficking, there's this emotional chain that's around their brain that's going to take me years as a trauma therapist to walk them out of," she said.

Lawmakers want to crack down on human trafficking with laws forcing human trafficking convicts to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence and register as sex offenders. There's another bill that would make it easier for victims to take civil action against a trafficker but there's a problem.

"They may be in and out of jail but rarely is it ever on a trafficking charge."

And even if a human trafficking charge sticks, Basey warns there shouldn't be an automatic punishment, every case need to have discretion.

Advocates say to really tackle the human trafficking problem in Oklahoma, it's going to take more boots on the ground guiding victims to help.