Children at Risk Senior Staff Attorney and Anti-Trafficking Expert, Jamey Caruthers, testified in support of House Bill 1540 (S. Thompson) in front of the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on March 15, 2021.
In Fiscal Year 2019, 1,973 children and youth were reported missing from DFPS custody. As in prior years, the living arrangements from which children and youth are missing most frequently are Residential Treatment Centers and Emergency Shelters. Many of these missing children end up in sexually exploitative situations, including human trafficking. Some were recruited by traffickers directly from the parking lots of residential treatment centers (RTCs).
HB 1540 (S.Thompson) would make it harder for traffickers to coerce or target vulnerable children from Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs). Specifically, the proposed legislation:
- Requires all providers/ owners of RTCs to post “no trespassing” notices along the exterior boundaries of the property in accordance with rules to be promulgated by the Texas Health & Human Services Commission.
- Enables law enforcement to stop persons in these “no-trespassing areas,” inquire as to their purposes, and request ID.
- Increases penalties for criminal activity currently provided for in Texas law for areas deemed to be in need of high protection.
- Designates RTCs as child safety zones as well as gang and drug-free zones, as defined by Texas law, while exempting RTC clients and their guardians from the enhanced penalties imposed by zones.
For more data and information on RTCs and how they relate to child-trafficking read our full written testimony via the button below.
To learn more about HB 1540 (S. Thompson) and its companion SB 1036 (Huffman) read our legislative one-pager linked below.
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