By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities
WASHINGTON, December 19, 2012 – The National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Fall Forum was held earlier this month in Washington D.C., and I was honored to join Oscar-winning actress and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, Mira Sorvino, in the plenary session of speakers. Also a wife, mother, and Harvard graduate, Mira devotes much of her time towards promoting awareness for the heinous crime of human trafficking and advocating for its victims. In her speech, she urged legislators to adopt numerous state laws aimed at preventing trafficking, prosecuting traffickers and buyers, and protecting victims.
During her speech, Mira unveiled a U.S. map which highlighted each state’s rating according to Polaris Project’s grading system. Polaris Project rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on ten categories of laws. Each state was placed in one of four tiers based on whether it had passed legislation in each of the ten categories.
Some statistics from Polaris Project:
- Twenty-one states are currently in the top category, Tier 1 (up from 11 states in 2011)
- Only four are in the bottom category of Tier 4 (down from nine states in 2011)
- One-third of states increased their rating by at least one tier
- Washington had the highest point total (with 11 out of 12)
- Wyoming was lowest (with -2 points)
- Massachusetts and West Virginia passed their first human trafficking laws in the past year