Mount Laurel, NJ – State Senator Troy Singleton announced the launch of a new, multi-agency program aimed at helping victims of human trafficking traveling through New Jersey. The initiative, which was done in partnership with the Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, will result in the prominent display of the state and national human trafficking hotline numbers in restrooms along the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.
Senator Singleton made the announcement at the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking’s South Jersey Forum, “Hiding in Plain Sight” at Rowan College Burlington County in Mount Laurel on Thursday evening. The hotline posters will be printed in both English and Spanish, and will be hung near the sinks in 48 men’s, women’s, and family restrooms in 17 Turnpike and Parkway Service Areas.
“It is no secret that human trafficking occurs across our nation, and here in New Jersey. Victims are often hiding in plain sight, and we need to do everything we can to let them know that help is just a phone call away,” said Singleton. “This initiative is a prime example of how different branches of government, and various agencies, can work cooperatively for the greater good – in this case on behalf of the men, women, and children who are trafficked through New Jersey.”
“These posters will be viewed by millions of people who pass through the rest stops along the New Jersey Turnpike and the Parkway each year. They are designed to speak directly to those who may be looking for a way out of a trafficking situation, as well as to those who may have witnessed any form of trafficking; for those who may need immediate emergency assistance, as well as those who need information or longer term support.” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “I want to thank everyone who took part in the truly collaborative effort that will raise awareness and save lives.”
“This collaborative effort will help raise awareness of human trafficking and provide a vital lifeline to its victims,” said NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, who is chair of the Turnpike Authority Board of Commissioners. “It is important that we do everything we can to assist the most vulnerable among us.”
Senator Singleton credited Burlington County resident, Judi Worgess, a founding member of In His Image Justice Coalition and a member of the South Jersey Abolitionists, with the idea of posting the human trafficking hotline number in the restrooms along the roadways. Since then, Senator Singleton’s office worked in direct partnership with the Attorney General’s Office, The NJ Human Trafficking Task Force, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, In His Image Justice Coalition, and the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking to implement the initiative.
“Many members of In His Image Justice Coalition have been concerned and have worked hard to see these signs posted in restrooms along our major highways,” said Worgess. “We are thankful for the work of Senator Singleton’s office, the Office of the Attorney General, the Turnpike Authority, and the others who have worked to make this happen. We believe these signs will be life-giving, resulting in the rescue of many victims, as a stop in a public restroom may be the only time that a victim is separated from his/her captor.”
In addition to the hotline initiative, Senator Singleton has authored several legislative proposals concerning human trafficking including:
- Senate Bill 68 would require commercial driver license applicants to complete training courses on how to handle and respond to suspected human trafficking.
- Senate Bill 69 would provide for civil actions against persons profiting from the commission of human trafficking offenses.
The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, located in the Department of Law and Public Safety, is committed to combating human trafficking through education, collaboration and prosecution. It trains and assists law enforcement officers to identify the signs of trafficking and its victims, coordinates statewide efforts to identify and provide services, prosecutes human trafficking cases, and informs the public through educational materials creating an awareness that human trafficking takes many forms in communities throughout our state.