Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day at the Legislature

I spent a good part of the day on Monday at the Nebraska State Legislature, which isn't even in session.  The Judiciary Committee, however, was having some interim study hearings, and I had been asked to testify on two issues.  The first was a special hearing by the committee to study "policies and procedures associated with immigrants who come in contact with law enforcement at Federal, state, and local levels." The second was Senator Amanda McGill's Legislative Resolution 243, an interim study to examine the extent of human trafficking in Nebraska in connection with labor and sex trafficking.

Of the two, I was more intrigued by the human trafficking testimony. I came prepared with a couple of actual examples of cases investigated by LPD in 2011.  I had planned to fill the role of trying to help those in attendance at the hearing understand that human trafficking really does occur in Nebraska. My friend Alex Hayes, the Omaha Police Chief, beat me to the punch when he testified about his experience in Omaha with the sex trade.  He essentially told the senators the same thing I had planned.  He was followed by another friend, Weysan Dun, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Omaha field office.  Among other things, SAC Dun told the senators another story about an Omaha case that was quite similar to one of my two examples.

By the time I was in the seat, the point had already been made, and there was no real need to convince the committee that the sex trade in Nebraska is a good example of human trafficking. Instead, I told them about the hard life, and about the vulnerability evident with sex trade victims, who often suffer from mental health and substance abuse issues, have endured a lifetime of abuse, neglect and exploitation, and are hardly free to make their intelligent, informed, and voluntary decisions. Rather, they are often manipulated and abused by handlers who may pose as boyfriends, business partners, husbands, and the like, but in actuality are pimps and exploiters who take advantage of the vulnerability of addiction, poverty, alcoholism, and mental illness. For that matter, so do all of the johns.

Paul Hammel's Omaha World Herald article contains a good description of the immigration hearing, while Dan Holtmeyer's Daily Nebraskan article thoroughly covers the human trafficking hearing.


Anonymous said...

One part of the sex trade that is overlooked takes place in the truck stops and rest areas along our major highways. Ask any OTR trucker about lot lizards and door knockers. Many of those lot lizards are teens. They may be doing it willingly but many are probably doing it against their will.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

This is obviously a subject we don't hear much about or know much about. But I applaud all of you who are bringing this issue to light so that we may learn more about it. I can't imagine what some of those poor victims go through.