COLUMBIA, South Carolina — South Carolina's top prosecutor is pushing for more authority to fight human trafficking.
Attorney General Alan Wilson, who begins a second term this year, has made combating human trafficking one of his major objectives during his four years in office. Legislation has already been prefiled in the House and Senate that would empower the state grand jury, which is empaneled by Wilson, to investigate human-trafficking offenses.
In 2012, state legislators passed a measure intended to strengthen South Carolina's anti-human-trafficking laws. The law also created the task force and gave the attorney general more tools to fight the selling people for sex or labor.
That panel met for more than a year, reviewing how other states address human trafficking and evaluating which plans might work best. Its recommendations, released by Wilson in June, included more training for medical professionals and first responders on identifying the signs of human trafficking, providing more emergency shelters for victims and developing a system to follow trafficking activity.
The plan also calls for setting up a system to teach children about trafficking as part of their school curriculum and launching a public service campaign to help people know how to identify trafficking activity.
Another part of the 2012 law requires police officers to ask women arrested for prostitution whether they are working against their will. Anyone who is being forced into the sex trade will not be prosecuted.
The law also lets prosecutors go after businesses such as massage parlors, storage units or tanning parlors that allow prostitution.
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