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In 2013, the Attorney General's Office collaborated with the Legislature to form the first Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking. This limited-term Commission working with a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach emphasized that the men, women, and children who are trafficked are victims-not criminals. The 2013 Commission had two goals: assess the threat human trafficking poses to Michigan residents and develop policy recommendations to promote its exposure and prevention. They reviewed data collection of trafficking crimes, services offered to victims, current state legislation regarding criminal punishment, as well as professional training to recognize signs of trafficking and current public awareness of this crime.
After more than six months of review, the Commission developed wide-ranging recommendations as an action-oriented agenda for policymakers. The report's key recommendations included:
- Strengthening Legal Protections for Human Trafficking Victims - The Commission called for the passage of a Safe Harbor law to ensure minor victims are treated as victims in need of services, not criminals.
- Expanding Real Assistance for Human Trafficking Victims - The Commission recommended expanding housing for trafficking victims who have nowhere to turn after being rescued from their trafficker.
- Toughening Laws to Target Traffickers and "Johns" - The Commission recommended increasing penalties for "johns" who solicit sex from 16 and 17 year-olds from a misdemeanor to a felony.
- Strengthening Forfeiture Laws - The Commission also recommended strengthening state forfeiture laws to reduce trafficker's ability to profit from the exploitation of children, women and men.
- Increasing Public Awareness - The Commission recommended a statewide public awareness campaign and human trafficking poster law to elevate the discussion and awareness that human trafficking happens in the Great Lakes State.
- Tracking the State's Progress - The Commission recommended the implementation of a standard, comprehensive method for capturing human trafficking data from entities that interact with trafficking victims.
As a result of the 2013 Commission's recommendations, and ongoing involvement and advocacy of Commission members, a comprehensive human trafficking legislative package was introduced and passed in 2014. The standing Michigan Human Trafficking Commission was established as a result.