Sex Trafficking in South Carolina – A Report Card

Sex Trafficking in South Carolina – A Report CardThe Human Trafficking Institute (HTI) is an organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking in the United States, providing law enforcement and criminal justice systems with their expertise and strategies. As part of their annual federal trafficking reports, HTI also provides state-by-state data on active criminal human trafficking cases.

Along with South Carolina’s new lead prosecutor U.S. Attorney Peter McCoy’s vow to prioritize prosecution of human trafficking, it’s a good time to check in on how our state is doing in the fight against sex trafficking.

How are we doing?

According to HTI’s 2019 report, South Carolina courts handled nine active criminal human trafficking cases, ranking it 20th in the nation for active cases. The number of sex trafficking reports increased that year, which is actually a good thing: it means more work is being done to stop trafficking once and for all. Further, federal courts in South Carolina ordered 100% of their convicted defendants to pay restitution to their victims. This makes South Carolina number one in the country for percentage of defendants ordered to pay restitution.

Captain Heidi Jackson of The Richland County Sheriff’s Department told FOX 57, “I think the monetary restitution is a good thing. I think it shows them that they were victimized; a lot of them don’t realize that they were a victim of a crime when they were in it.”

How we compare to the rest of the country

The report also compares each state to the rest of the nation throughout 2019.

New criminal cases

  • South Carolina: 0
  • Federal: 145

Active criminal cases

  • South Carolina: 9
  • Federal: 606


  • South Carolina: 5
  • Federal: 339


  • South Carolina: 5/5 convicted defendants (100%)
  • Federal: 33%

Nationwide, the HTI also found:

  • 145 new cases, down from 170 in 2018
  • 271 new defendants, down from 287 in 2018
  • 606 active cases, down from 644 in 2018
  • 339 convictions, up from 300 in 2018

As U.S. Attorney McCoy states, human trafficking “is one of the most offensive crimes possible. With support from our federal, state and local partners, this office will find those who engage in all forms of human trafficking and bring them to justice.”

If you or a loved one are a victim of human trafficking, for immediate help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733 (BeFree).

Victims of sex trafficking may file a civil claim against their assaulter. The attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips provide a safe environment in which to discuss your case and your options. We are dedicated to bringing these criminals to justice and we want to help.

To schedule your free consultation with one of our South Carolina attorneys, call 803-327-7800, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.

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