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New Va. Human Trafficking Laws Provide Options For Victims

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Virginia Del. Adam Ebbin says the ease of movement along Interstate-95 is what makes the D.C. area convenient for human traffickers.

"The perpetrators can move people," Ebbin says. "They can be arrested in Virginia, go out on bail, be moved to New Jersey or New York, and back and forth."

And many human trafficking victims do end up behind bars because they're in the country illegally and hesitate to cooperate with police.

A bill sponsored by Ebbin and signed into law Tuesday orders the state's social services department to develop a plan for victims of human trafficking.

Loudoun County Sheriff Stephen Simpson says before now, police have often felt as if they had two bad choices: keeping victims behind bars, or releasing them without offering support.

"We typically in years past have not had anything to offer them," he says. "Once they get out of jail, they go, and where they go is up to them, and unfortunately it's [often] back into the same environment they were in before."

Virginia's General Assembly also increased penalties for human trafficking crimes this year.

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