First legislation signed into law in Missouri this year aims to combat human trafficking

Missouri will observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week on Friday, April 13, with a ceremony at the Capitol. This year’s theme – Expand the Circle, Reach All Victims – recognizes the importance of reaching out to all victims to ensure they have access to resources and support. The ceremony will honor crime victims, survivors and efforts the of victim advocates.

The ceremony is set for 12 p.m. in the Missouri Capitol Rotunda. Speakers will include  Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys President Amy Fite, Victim Advocate Speaker Sharon Liebman and Missouri Office of Prosecution Services Director Jason Lamb.

“The best way to fight crime is to prevent it with the assistance of our law enforcement partners, community groups and organizations that support victims of human trafficking, domestic violence and all crimes,” Juden said. “Our department is much more than a law enforcement agency. We support crime victims through grants supporting domestic violence shelters, counseling services, and victim advocates. We also provide millions of dollars a year in direct support to crime victims to reimburse them for medical expenses, counseling, and lost wages through the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program.”

On March 1, 2018, Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law House Bill 1246, which aims to combat human trafficking by requiring certain businesses to display posters with information about a national human trafficking hotline and raising awareness of a crime that has been referred to as modern day slavery.

The first piece of legislation to become law during the 2018 legislative session requires airports, passenger train stations, truck stops, bus stations, urgent care centers and certain other businesses to display the anti-human trafficking posters by March 1, 2019. The Department of Public Safety is now developing a poster and a website where it will be possible to download it for printing.

The Department of Public Safety administers grant funding for programs and projects to victim-centered agencies, including the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program (CVC), the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Program, the Sexual Assault Services Program Grant Program (SASP), the State Services to Victims Fund (SSVF), the Violence Against Women STOP Formula Grant Program (STOP VAWA), and the Missouri Victim Automated Notification System (MOVANS).

MOVANS allows Missouri crime victims to receive automated emails or phone calls any time an offender is scheduled to be released from prison or jail, or have a parole or court hearing. It also allows anyone to receive an automatic notification anytime an order of protection has been served in their case. In the last five years, MOVANS has delivered almost 5 million automated phone calls, emails and letters about court dates and offender custody status.

The CVC program helps pay violent crime victims’ out-of-pocket expenses, such as counseling, funeral expenses, and lost wages. In the last five years, it has awarded more than $24 million to more than 8,500 Missourians who were affected by violent crime.

To learn more about Missouri CVC, MOVANS, and other Department of Public Safety victim service programs, visit to the DPS website (https://dps.mo.gov/) or contact the Crime Victim Services Unit at (573) 751-4905.

The following agencies donated their time and effort to make this year’s Crime Victims’ Rights Week ceremony and awareness events successes: Green Dot Program of Lincoln University, Missouri Attorney General’s Office, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Missouri Department of Corrections, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Missouri Department of Public Safety – Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, Missouri Department of Public Safety – Crime Victim Services Unit, Missouri Department of Social Services – Division of Youth Services, Missouri KidsFirst, Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, Missouri Secretary of State’s Office – Safe at Home Program, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Victim Assistance Network, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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