Louisiana ranks number one in the nation for the best anti-trafficking laws, according to the nonprofit organization Shared Hope International. Franklinton Senator Beth Mizell, who serves on the state’s Human Trafficking Study Commission, says while this is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to help the victims.

“Right now it’s very limited to what can be done when a girl is found. Our fear is that she’s going to be put into the parish jail and held until something’s done,” Mizell said.

Mizell says there’s only one therapeutic home for sex trafficking victims in Louisiana, and it only holds up to ten girls. She says we need more safe places for these girls to go once they’re rescued, which takes a facility and a dedicated staff to care for them.

“They have a lot of sometimes psychiatric needs. They have emotional needs, sometimes there’s physical problems that have to be addressed,” Mizell said.

Mizell says the first thing we have to do is make sure these victims aren’t treated as delinquents and pushed into the criminal justice system.

“We have to make sure law enforcement is educated as to how to treat the situation, to recognize them as a trafficking victim, not as they would treat a prostitute,” Mizell said.