ATLANTA – First Lady Marty Kemp joined GRACE Commission members, U.S. Department of Justice officials, Attorney General Chris Carr, and U.S. Attorneys BJay Pak and Charles Peeler recently to announce awards of nearly $153 million to fight human trafficking in Georgia. Approximately $4.3 million will assist law enforcement officials and victim service providers in prosecuting human traffickers and aiding survivors.
“Human trafficking is a pervasive, growing threat plaguing communities across our state and country,” Kemp said in a news release.
“I applaud our federal, state, and local partners who are committed to holding bad actors accountable, seeking justice for victims and helping survivors heal. I am deeply grateful to the U.S. Department of Justice for this new funding that will truly save lives. By working together, we will put an end to this criminal enterprise, once and for all.”
“We are appreciative of our federal partners who have made it possible to continue and expand on our anti-trafficking efforts,” Carr said.
“The resources announced today will help ensure more victims in Georgia get the help and support that they need and ensure that law enforcement officials have every tool at their disposal to put buyers and traffickers behind bars where they belong.”
The U.S. Attorneys lauded the grants as vital in the ongoing fight against human trafficking.
“Human and sex trafficking are not victimless crimes,” Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said. “These grants will go a long way in not just furthering our prosecutorial efforts for these terrible crimes, but also in providing much needed victim-centered services. Our office continues to be fully committed to eradicating human trafficking.”
“In Georgia, the fight against human trafficking is a coordinated effort of federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecuting agencies working together to identify, arrest, and prosecute those who choose to engage in this horrific industry,” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, which includes Albany, said.
“In the Middle District, we aggressively investigate and prosecute cases where offenders prey on vulnerable citizens, taking advantage of their age, their desire for love and affection, their financial status and their addictions.
“I am confident that these federal dollars will provide critical support to those who are dedicated to protecting victims and arresting perpetrators, which will lead to the end of human trafficking in our state.”
Grant awards will support a range of activities designed to bring sex and labor traffickers to justice and provide critical services to victims. A grant to the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council will fund a multidisciplinary task force composed of law enforcement agencies, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and several victim service organizations. Funds will also support direct victim services provided under the auspices of the Georgia Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking.
Other awards will help to ensure that children and minors who are victimized receive counseling, case management and other critical services.
The Georgia Care Connection Office Inc., Wellspring Living Inc., Tapestri Inc. and the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy are among the grant recipients.
The remainder of the state’s awards cover a wide range of criminal justice, juvenile justice and victim service activities. Grants will support school safety initiatives, law enforcement hiring, services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, inmate re-entry services, youth mentoring, and efforts to combat online child exploitation and manage sex offenders. Awards were made by the three grant-making components of the Department of Justice: OJP, COPS and OVW.