Sex Traffickers Ruin Their Victims’ Lives – They Should Be Made to Pay to Help Rebuild Them

Experts and victims’ advocates tell us that Texas won’t make a serious dent in the scourge that is human sex trafficking until there are equal parts aggressive prosecution of the criminals and efforts to help thousands of exploited women and girls rebuild their lives.Though there’s much work to do, in our view, Texas has one of the most coordinated law enforcement efforts in the country. One only has to look at the almost weekly headlines of local, state and federal officials putting another trafficker behind bars.Now, there’s promising evidence that the people responsible for ruining these women’s lives are increasingly being forced to contribute to helping restore them.The latest news came recently out of the Dallas federal courthouse. An admitted pimp, Gregory Bowden, pleaded guilty to recruiting his 19-year-old victim in 2014, then forcing her into prostitution from Odessa to Euless to Corpus Christi. U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater sentenced him to 11 years in prison.What also got our attention is the fact that Fitzwater also ordered Bowden, a Grand Prairie man, to pay his victim $332,990 in restitution.Fitzwater — who’s been on the federal bench since he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 — sent a major message that the punishment for these insidious crimes must include a significant amount of direct redress for the years of horrors they’ve inflicted in these multimillion-dollar enterprises.Federal law mandates restitution in federal human trafficking cases. But a review from the Human Trafficking Institute shows that in 2017, restitution was awarded in only 27% of the cases across the country. Too often, prosecutors didn’t request it or judges didn’t grant requests.Fitzwater’s order signals a welcome renewed focus in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Texas to hold the criminals accountable to their victims. It was gratifying to see U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox say in a statement that her office is committed to seeking restitution in every human trafficking case it can.  Continue reading...

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