Responding to Child Victims of Human Trafficking - Louisiana

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State Agency Responsibilities

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 725; 725.3

In determining the need for and capacity of services that may be provided to sexually exploited children, the Department of Children and Family Services shall recognize that sexually exploited children have separate and distinct service needs according to gender, and every effort should be made to ensure these children are not prosecuted or treated as juvenile delinquents but instead are given the appropriate social services.

The department shall develop a statewide protocol for helping to coordinate the delivery of services to sexually exploited children and shall work with court intake officers to ensure that all State, Federal, and community-based resources for sexually exploited children are known and available to children who have been granted diversion under article 839.

A child who is a victim of human trafficking is a child in need of care, and unless otherwise specified in this chapter, the provisions of title VI of this code shall govern, when applicable.

Training Requirement

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 40:2405.7

The Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training shall provide training for law enforcement agencies in addressing human trafficking. The training shall focus on all of the following:

  • Investigating human trafficking under Rev. Stat. § 14:46.2
  • Investigating trafficking of children for sexual purposes under Rev. Stat. § 14:46.3 and the special needs of sexually exploited children
  • Methods used in identifying U.S. citizens and foreign national victims of human trafficking, including preliminary interview techniques and appropriate questioning methods
  • Methods of increasing effective collaboration with nongovernmental organizations and other relevant social services organizations in the course of investigating and prosecuting a human trafficking case
  • Methods for protecting the rights of victims of human trafficking, taking into account the need to consider human rights and the special needs of female and child victims
  • The necessity of treating victims of human trafficking as crime victims rather than criminals
  • Methods for promoting the safety of victims of human trafficking

Diversion From Prosecution

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 14:46.3; Ch. Code Art. 839

No victim of trafficking shall be prosecuted for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Any child determined to be a victim of trafficking shall be eligible for specialized services for sexually exploited children.

Prior to the filing of a delinquency petition, the district attorney or the court, with the consent of the district attorney, may authorize an informal adjustment agreement. The court may authorize the district attorney or probation officer to effect an informal adjustment agreement if the child and district attorney have no objection. The court may, with concurrence of the district attorney, dismiss the petition or allow the petition to remain pending during the period of informal adjustment.

When a petition involves an allegation of an act of prostitution pursuant to Rev. Stat. § 14:82, prostitution by massage pursuant to Rev. Stat. § 14:83.3 or 83.4, or crimes against nature by solicitation pursuant to Rev. Stat. § 14:89.2 and it is the child's first offense and the child expresses a willingness to cooperate and receive specialized services for sexually exploited children, the district attorney may effect an informal adjustment agreement that includes specialized services for the child. If, however, the child has previously been adjudicated a delinquent in violation of Rev. Stat. § 14:82, 83.3, 83.4, or 89.2 or is unwilling to cooperate with specialized services for sexually exploited children, continuing with the delinquency proceeding shall be within the discretion of the district attorney.

Services and Supports for Victims

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 725.1; 725.2; 839

The term 'safe house' means a residential facility or a shelter care facility operated by an authorized agency, including a nonprofit agency, with experience in providing services to sexually exploited children and approved by the department to provide shelter for sexually exploited children.

The term 'sexually exploited child' means any person younger than age 18 who has been subject to sexual exploitation because the person is either a victim of trafficking of children for sexual purposes under Rev. Stat. § 14:46.3 or child sex trafficking under 18 U.S.C. § 1591.

The department shall identify and maintain a current listing of safe houses that are licensed residential homes that specialize in the provision of services to sexually exploited children, regardless of whether those facilities receive taxpayer funding. This listing shall be made available to courts, prosecutors, and other stakeholders involved in proceedings pertaining to an exploited child.

The department may, to the extent funds are available, operate or contract with an appropriate nongovernmental agency with experience working with sexually exploited children to operate one or more safe houses in a geographically appropriate area of the State. Each safe house shall provide safe and secure housing and specialized services for sexually exploited children.

The specialized services may include, but are not limited to, safe and stable housing, comprehensive onsite case management, integrated mental health and chemical dependency services, specialized trauma recovery services, education and employment training, and referrals to off-site specialized services, as appropriate.

Support for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 725

The legislature finds that arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating victimized children serves to retraumatize them and to increase their feelings of low self-esteem, which only makes the process of recovery more difficult. Both Federal and international law recognize that sexually exploited children are the victims of crime and should be treated as such. Therefore, sexually exploited children should not be prosecuted for criminal acts related to prostitution. Instead, sexually exploited children should, where possible, be diverted into services that address the needs of these children outside of the justice system. Sexually exploited children deserve the protection of child welfare services, including diversion, crisis intervention, counseling, and emergency housing services. The purpose of this chapter is to protect a child from further victimization after the child is discovered to be a sexually exploited child by ensuring that a child protective response is in place in the State. This is to be accomplished by presuming that any child engaged in prostitution, prostitution by massage, or crime against nature by solicitation is a victim of sex trafficking and providing these children with the appropriate care and services where possible.