By John MassonMarch 20, 2013
When Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was looking for the best people to form the first Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking, he didn't have to look far to find a national expert.
Prof. Bridgette Carr, '02, founded the country's first Human Trafficking Clinic, devoted to providing legal services to victims of modern-day slavery, at Michigan Law in 2009. So she was perfectly suited to join the commission, which held its first meeting in Lansing March 18. Serving alongside her are Schuette, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, '82, state legislators, law enforcement officials, and other human trafficking experts.
The commission will meet for six months and deliver a report in October. Schuette said the goal is to develop a comprehensive, statewide plan both to combat trafficking and to improve the outcomes for the people who are its victims.
"I'm hopeful for a comprehensive and collaborative approach," Prof. Carr said. "We know from past experiences the risk in trying to address human trafficking through ad hoc and hodge-podge efforts."
To guard against that, the commission is split into five subcommittees, each handling one of the following: legislation and policy; raising public awareness; professional training; victim services; and data collection. Prof. Carr chairs the data collection subcommittee.
Schuette called human trafficking the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, forcing large numbers of people into the sex-work industry, agriculture, and other forms of uncompensated labor.
Too often, Prof. Carr said, human trafficking victims are re-victimized by a criminal justice system that charges them with crimes they were forced to commit.
"I hope this is the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way we view this crime and its victims," she said. "I get the sense that the attorney general wants to be really intentional, so we can be comprehensive in our approach, and figure out administratively, organizationally, and legislatively what the best approaches are."
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