Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin said he will take aim at Virginia’s growing human-trafficking problem with a plan to increase prosecutions and penalties as well as hold tech companies accountable for activity on their platforms.
Mr. Youngkin, who hosted a roundtable on the issue last week with survivors and stakeholders, seeks to “use the full weight of the law to end modern-day slavery in Virginia and empower survivors,” according to a memo shared with The Washington Times.
“When I am governor, we will not only bring the full weight of the law down on traffickers and buyers, we will also equip survivors to heal and flourish,” Mr. Youngkin said. “Human trafficking is slavery in our time. It leads to the tragic consequences of lives lost to addiction and suicide. I commit today to end this exploitation, end this abuse, and to rid our state of this evil criminal enterprise.”
His plan includes creating a gubernatorial anti-trafficking task force; forming a coalition of prosecutors, law enforcement and survivors, and addressing the “demand side of trafficking” by hiking prosecutions and hitting violators with jail time as opposed to fines.
The campaign platform includes focusing on Illegal massage businesses [IMBs] that serve as human-trafficking hubs. In Virginia, there are 339 such suspected businesses, 75 of which are within a mile of a public school.
“Glenn will lead the fight to end modern-day slavery in Virginia with a survivor-first, trauma-informed, consequences-enforced approach that brings justice to traffickers and those participating in human trafficking, and prepares and empowers survivors for a better future,” said the memo.
Fairfax County has struggled with human trafficking thanks to its proximity to the D.C. metro area, with more than 200,000 such transactions per year, according to county figures.
Mr. Youngkin, a successful businessman who faces former Democratic Gov. Terry MacAuliffe in the November election, also plans to push social media companies to do more to fight trafficking on their platforms.
His roundtable was held at the Falls Church Marriott Fairview Park.