A state human trafficking commission says Michigan should pass laws to ensure teens ensnared in the sex trade are presumed as victims, not prostitutes.
By granting them safe harbor, the focus can be on providing services to help young girls, according to a report unveiled Wednesday. Another recommendation from the six-month review would toughen criminal penalties for traffickers and "johns" who solicit sex from 16- and 17-year-old girls.
Attorney General Bill Schuette, lawmakers, advocates and experts say Michigan must do more to raise awareness of and stop trafficking for sex and labor. The commission has identified more than 300 confirmed victims but believes trafficking is underreported.
The Legislature also is being urged to give prosecutors more time to freeze assets gained from trafficking and let victims erase their convictions.