prostitution

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Jonathan Pommerville and Lisa Thompson live in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood. While they view their street as home, others view it as an off-the-radar place to dump trash and drive off. Some also view it as a place to engage the services of prostitutes.

In response to the actions of these “humpers and dumpers,” Pommerville and Thompson pull out their video camera.

Laura Swanson

It’s hard not to picture the movie Taken when someone says “human trafficking” – the women lured into a Frenchman’s car and Liam Neeson’s ensuing action scenes.

But filmmaker Laura Swanson said that narrow idea of what human trafficking encompasses is misleading.

“Certainly that does happen, but that’s not the majority of the cases,” Swanson said. “And I think people really need to start reframing the ways in which they see human trafficking so that we can amend our laws and legal system to accompany what we need to do to get resources and to provide the best support for victims and survivors.”

Swanson’s documentary film Break the Chain aims to do just that – to reframe how we understand human trafficking.

Laura Swanson

When Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III was charged with a wide range of prostitution-related crimes, it managed to refocus attention on sex crimes and human trafficking in Michigan.  Victims of these crimes include people forced to sell their bodies for sex and people used for cheap labor.  

Break the Chain, a new documentary on human trafficking in Michigan, premiers next month. 

Filmmaker Laura Swanson and human trafficking survivor Debbie joined Cynthia Canty on today's Stateside.

 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“Disheartening,” says Michigan’s attorney general.

“A betrayal,” says the Ingham County sheriff.

They are talking about a laundry list of criminal charges filed today against a long-time county prosecutor.

Stuart Dunnings lll has been Ingham County’s prosecutor for nearly 20 years.

He now faces up to 20 years in prison.

Dunnings was arrested at a Lansing-area coffee shop this morning. He’s been charged with multiple prostitution-related charges, including soliciting and pandering. He’s also charged with neglect of office.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is using a new tool to crack down on prostitution: Facebook. 

The department plans to post the photos of people arrested on prostitution charges on its Facebook page.

Police Chief James Tolbert says his department has been trying to curb prostitution in Flint. But he says repeated arrests and sweeps have not eliminated the problem.

flickr user FatMandy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Rick Snyder has approved new laws to make it easier to prosecute pimps and human traffickers. The legislation is supposed to protect victims of human trafficking from criminal charges. One of the new laws shields children who are trafficked from prostitution charges. 

Theresa Flores wrote a book about being trafficked as a teenager in metro Detroit. She says protection for victims will encourage them to cooperate with prosecutors to help send traffickers to prison. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There are dozens of bills before the Michigan Legislature dealing with human trafficking.  

Another 23 bills were unveiled today as part of a package dealing with forced labor and prostitution.

Kurt Heise is the chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee. He says the bills introduced this week not only go after the pimps and johns but also acknowledges the needs of the victims.

“We look at the young people and the vulnerable adults who are trafficked as victims and that they get the love and support that we can provide,” says Heise.