TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today joined with Senator Jeffery S. Chiesa and nearly 200 people, including human trafficking survivors, school counselors, mental health professionals, victim-service providers, immigration advocates and many others at a New Jersey Victim/Survivor Awareness Summit in Trenton.
Today’s summit aimed to raise consciousness about the needs and concerns of trafficking victims and survivors. At the summit, Acting Attorney General Hoffman announced that the Department of Law and Public Safety – through its State Office of Victim Witness Advocacy – will offer a $350,000 competitive grant award to support comprehensive services for all victims of human trafficking such as shelter, and the provision of sustenance and counseling to victims with the ultimate goal of them achieving autonomy and self-sufficiency.
With a large influx of people expected in February for the 2014 Super Bowl, New Jersey will be at an increased risk of human trafficking. Today’s summit is one in a series of events being hosted by the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force to highlight what New Jersey is doing to combat human trafficking and to highlight services available to victims and survivors. Today’s summit also aimed to debunk common myths about human trafficking, such as that this heinous crime only occurs in foreign countries or to foreign-born people.
“Perhaps one of the biggest myths debunked today is the misguided notion that only the poor, immigrants, or drug addicted can be trafficked,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking regardless of race, age, gender, or socio-economic status. That is why educational programs such as today’s summit are so incredibly important in defusing these common misconceptions. We need to cast our net wide to protect everyone.”
Also at today’s summit, two human trafficking survivors opened up about their experiences during a morning panel discussion moderated by Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig. Senator Chiesa, who delivered the keynote address at the summit, made the issue of human trafficking one of his top priorities during his time as New Jersey Attorney General.
The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, which sponsored today's symposium, works to identify, investigate and successfully prosecute human trafficking offenders. The Task Force also coordinates statewide efforts to provide services for human trafficking victims, and provides training to members of law enforcement on methods for identifying victims, as well as flagging the signs of possible human trafficking activity.
Individuals who are, or believe they may know, a victim of human trafficking are encouraged to call the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline at 855-END-NJ-HT (855-363-6548). The toll-free hotline is available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.