Strip clubs and sex trafficking, the two don't typically go together in a good way. However, Representative Darren Jernigan wants to change that by proposing a bill that would directly benefit victims.
“Frankly I thought I probably would get laughed at for doing something like this but my motives were pure and my heart was in the right place,” said Jernigan.
After an outreach called Rest Stop Ministries visited Jernigan's church he was compelled to help their cause which funds beds and rehabilitation centers for victims of sex trafficking. His proposal, pass a law that will likely tax $2 for each strip club visitor.
“The business doesn't’t necessarily have to tax anybody $2, they’re just going to be responsible for sending that $2 to the State. Of course they'll likely put that cost onto the consumer.”
There are 26 strip clubs throughout Tennessee, the majority are in Memphis. Jernigan said this is not meant to hurt adult businesses, but too many times sex trafficking victims end up there.
“If they don’t get the bed to learn those skills I was talking about, their alternative, well they can take their clothes off and dance. That’s about the only thing they can do. We’re trying to give some options for these young ladies to learn something else other than going to a strip club,” Jernigan explained.
The money from this tax will go to the State's general fund before being transferred to the Office of Criminal Justice Programs to be distributed to rehabilitation centers.
“It’s not going to be hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, it’s just not," said Jernigan. “But it’s a small step to recognize this is an issue, it puts it on the radar screen.”