Anti-human trafficking bills will soon become law

Posted at 8:34 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 21:34:49-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A spokesperson for Governor Bill Lee said he intends to sign two bills into that will fight human trafficking in Tennessee.

One of the bills creates legal protections for people who are human trafficked and defend themselves. The other bill creates a requirement for teachers to have human trafficking training once every three years.

One of the bill's sponsors, Memphis Democrat Rep. London Lamar said it's just a couple of the ideas she has to fight trafficking in Tennessee.

"In order to mitigate this we must bring true criminal justice reform to bring more support for victims instead of relying on perpetrators to do the right thing," said Rep. Lamar.

The legal bill was written in response to the Cyntoia Brown case. Rep. Lamar said she wanted to make it easier for people who were being human trafficked and physically abused to have arguments in court. It strengthens self-defense arguments for victims of trafficking.

"This is a step in true criminal justice reform, closing a loophole so that victims can feel that the system is working on their behalf," said Rep. Lamar. "We don't want victims to be put in jail for simply trying to defend themselves."

A third bill is also being brought to the legislature. It would also create training requirements, except for medical professionals instead.

The first two bills were bipartisan. Republican Rep. Michael Curcio helped Rep. Lamar write the legal protections in the bill.

Curcio's office released this statement:

“While we continue our work to eradicate human trafficking, this bill addresses one of the many barriers these victims face. HB0017 gives human trafficking victims a legal avenue to defend themselves if they believe their lives are in danger due to the aggressive behavior of their victimizers. I am grateful for Representative Lamar's partnership on this legislation and her hard work to give a voice to the voiceless."