Georgia governor targets sex trafficking on first day of session

News and analysis from the AJC's political team

At the start of the legislative session, Gov. Brian Kemp and his administration sent the unmistakable signal Monday that cracking down on sex trafficking remains at the top of his agenda.

The Republican is expected to soon outline legislation that increases penalties for those convicted of the crime. And his wife, Marty Kemp, unveiled a new training program to help identify sex trafficking victims.

“If you see something, say something. Because someone’s freedom and livelihood depends on it,” said Marty Kemp.

The training course was designed by members of the GRACE commission Kemp created shortly after his election to combat the crime.

The governor said his office’s employees have completed the program, and he encouraged every state employee – roughly 80,000 of them – to do the same.

“Together we can continue the work to raise awareness of human trafficking and equip all members of Team Georgia to identify the instances of sex trafficking,” said the governor.

State police officials will also hold self-defense classes at the Capitol on Jan. 30.

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Kemp has made targeting sex traffickers a focus of his criminal justice policy, and he signed a trio of measures into law last year that ratchet up penalties on criminal offenders.

The measures increased penalties for those convicted of pimping or pandering, gave the state new powers to provide emergency care for a child victim of human trafficking and broadened the definition of criminal gang activity to include the crime.

This year, Kemp said he would push legislation that would "put some more teeth" into state laws that increase penalties for those convicted of the crime. And Marty Kemp said the commission will seek other ways to prevent the crime.

“Once you learn what to look for, you know you’ve got to do something about it,” she said. “If we have all Georgians take the training, it would be unbelievable.”