Jacksonville, FL (May 20, 2016) Human trafficking is an invisible crime that can ruin the lives of its victims, many of which are mere teens. Florida ranks as the third highest state where human trafficking occurs and Jacksonville places as the third highest city in the state where this crime is committed. Victims are forced into the sex trade or exploited in restaurant, factory or agricultural work for little or no money.
On May 20, 2016, the City Council approved Bill 2016-130 that calls for businesses in the nude or adult entertainment industry as well as massage and bodywork services not owned by a health care practitioner to display an 8.5-by-11 inch sign in conspicuous places, written in 16 point type that can be seen by victims that reads:
“If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave-whether it is prostitution, housework, farm work, factory work, retail work, restaurant work, or any other activity- call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to 233-733 to access help and services. Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and Florida law. This notice is posted pursuant to Section 787.29, Florida Statutes, and Section 150.413, Jacksonville Ordinance Code.”
District 11 Council Member Danny Becton, a co-sponsor of the bill, drafted an important floor amendment that detailed how the program will work, who would enforce and how it would be funded. The Neighborhoods Department was placed in charge of the program and its educational component to help affected establishments understand their responsibility to display the signs. The amendment identified the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office as the lead enforcement agency allowing for the Neighborhoods Department and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department to provide secondary support in notifying JSO of potential violations.
Those found in violation will receive one warning during a 12-month period and have 10 days to come into compliance. Those failing to come into compliance will be fined $500 (plus $5 for costs). The money from this fine is placed in a Human Trafficking Special Revenue Fund. Half of that money is set aside for the administrative costs to create and distribute the signs. The other half is dedicated to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, serving as the lead law enforcement agency.