Local professors create new tool to help law enforcement identify human trafficking victims

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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Two Citadel professors are using a new method at the Al Cannon Detention Center to identify human trafficking victims across the Lowcountry.

The new project is aiming to ask all inmates a series of questions when they first come in for booking. The inmates may not even know they’re being questioned about human trafficking.

Human Trafficking is a crime that is hidden in the shadows of the Lowcountry.

Experts are seeing that many of the victims are young, forced, or tricked into free labor or into the sex trade.

“This has been 3 years in the making and it’s finally taken off and we are now getting the data,” said Dr. Leslie Hill, a co-chair of the Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force’s research and data subcommittee.

Now two Citadel professors, Kristen Hefner and Leslie Hill are trying to identify some of the victims who have found themselves on the other side of the law.

“For example one of our questions is about housing and stability and that question is based on research that over 60% of human trafficking’s victims were either homeless when they were recruited into trafficking,” said Dr. Kristen Hefner.

If anything seems concerning during the questioning that information is sent off to local law enforcement and advocacy centers.

The professors hope this can help not only find victims but the ones forcing them into human trafficking as well here in the Lowcountry.

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