Minnesota’s Safe Harbor program to help victims of the sex trade will be expanded to include victims of labor trafficking, thanks to a $2.87 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, announced Tuesday by the state Department of Health.
The Safe Harbor legislation enacted in 2014 ensures that people younger than 24 who are sold for sex are treated as victims, not criminals. It also toughened penalties for customers and started a statewide system for exploited youth.
The program will now help tribal and other state agencies serve all trafficking victims up to age 24. About $800,000 of the grant will address labor trafficking; $800,000 will support tribal efforts and the rest will go to ongoing work aimed at sexually exploited youth.
Minnesota’s Safe Harbor program provided the model for the federal Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and signed into law last year.