Innovative Leadership. Proven Results.

Combating Sex Trafficking: the selling of our children for sex

Sex trafficking is the biggest human rights atrocity in our state - and it’s happening before our very eyes. On any given night in our community, children are sold to adults for sex. Traffickers prey on vulnerable victims and those children are abused, tortured, beaten, raped, plied with drugs and alcohol, and forced to do things no child would ever want to do.

Working with a statewide coalition of partners, John has been able to:

  • Convene his colleagues across the state to publicly declare that they would no longer prosecute children for prostitution, but instead treat them as the victims they are.
  • More than double the number of cases the Ramsey County Attorney's Office has charged, including bringing down a sizable trafficking ring with law enforcement partners in Saint Paul that resulted in landmark prison sentences of 36 and 40 years.
  • Implement a victim-centered approach to working with children who have been sold for sex, which has not only helped the victims, but increased our ability to identify and prosecute the people who sell our children for sex.
  • Work with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to raise awareness with kids, parents, and community leaders to help prevent this modern day slavery and rescue kids who are already trapped.
  • Advance legislation at the Capitol to secure $2.8 million to fund a new statewide director, six regional navigators, safe shelter, and statewide training to enhance our systemic, comprehensive response to this horrific crime.

Reuniting Families:

Every year, teens languish in the foster care system without being adopted. In some cases, parents have gotten their lives back together and have stable homes to provide for their children. It’s now possible for them to be reunited.

Alongside statewide colleagues, legal and family advocacy organizations, and human services agencies, John was able to pass a new law, "The Family Reunification Act," to provide an opportunity – in select circumstances – for unadopted teens to be reunited with their families when it’s in their best interest.

Preventing Auto Theft:

Ramsey County has more than 2500 auto thefts every year. Thieves quickly figured out that if a vehicle was more than six years old, they didn’t need a title to scrap it. Now they do.

By bringing the scrap metal industry, auto recyclers, and dealers together with law enforcement, John was able to strengthen state laws to prevent auto thieves from stealing cars and scrapping them, often before owners even noticed they were gone. Now titles are required to scrap vehicles and sales will be tracked in an online database so industry members and law enforcement can work together to reduce incentives to steal cars and other metals and to catch the thieves who do.

Enhancing Services for Veterans:

Re-entry into civilian life can be challenging for veterans returning from duty. Homelessness, substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, sexual trauma and PTSD are all too often collateral consequences of service that can contribute to entry into the criminal justice system. Now, public agencies have teamed up to help.

Alongside judges, prosecutors, public defenders, veterans advocates, and veterans themselves, John has been able to develop a Veteran's Court to identify veterans as they enter the criminal justice system and connect them to the services they’ve earned to address any underlying issues.

Promoting Victim Safety:

In the last 10 years, 36 women and 23 children in Ramsey County were murdered as a result of domestic violence. Thousands more are impacted on a daily basis. Of the cases that reach the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, 70% involve children.

By working with public safety agencies, courts, and the legislature, John has been able to pilot the use of GPS technology to help keep victims safe in domestic abuse situations. Using GPS technology helps track offenders and ensure they comply with no-contact orders to keep victims safe until their cases can be heard in court.