How Texas’ Crusade Against Sex Trafficking Has Left Victims Behind

(Editor's note: Morgan Smith, Neena Satija and Edgar Walters are reporters with The Texas Tribune. To read more of The Tribune's multi-part series, visit texastribune.org/soldout.)When Mia was 16, she walked out of a Houston children's emergency shelter. She had to go, she told the staff. Her pimp was waiting.It was 2013, the day before Thanksgiving. She was almost 200 miles from Corpus Christi, where she grew up.Mia had been raised by her grandparents and, after they died, by her drug-addicted mother. When her mother went to prison, other relatives took her in.By the time she was 10, behavioral problems landed Mia in a psychiatric hospital. That's where a state-appointed lawyer told her, as gently as she could, that the aunt and uncle Mia had been living with no longer wanted her.She entered Texas' long-term foster care system. For the next six years, she cycled through 19 different homes and institutions. She was brutally punished in some of those places — thrown to the ground and restrained, made to stand on milk crates for hours — and sexually assaulted. She attended nine different schools. She wound up in the emergency room twice for suicidal thoughts.After Mia ran from one foster care facility, police found her in a park; she told them she had been having sex for money. She ran away again,and authorities sent her to the Houston emergency shelter. That's where, 15 minutes later, she ran for the final time, back into the arms of her pimp.Like too many kids in the state's care, she disappeared into the underworld of sex trafficking.  Continue reading...

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