At This Time

Human Trafficking is not a “Crime du Jour”
by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Racine,
Karri Hemmig

Human Trafficking is not a “Crime du Jour”

Recent sentencing in the Riverside case has caused human trafficking in Racine County to once again be in the news. Mr. Richards, Weatherspoon’s attorney, referred to it as the “crime du jour”, and dismissed it as a passing phase. The sentence handed down was 6 years in prison with 10 years probation. Four of those years were due to possession of a weapon with a felony, again supporting the idea that illegally possessing a gun is a more severe punishment than selling another human.

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We understand that these cases can be very difficult to prosecute and commend the DA’s office and the Judge for the harshest sentence given to date on human trafficking crimes in Racine County. The juvenile trafficking charge was dropped in a plea agreement and carries a much harsher sentence.


Simply put: If you sell yourself and keep 100% of the profits, it’s prostitution. If you sell someone else and financially benefit from it, it’s trafficking. It’s a complicated criminal industry with many levels of force, fraud and coercion that may lead a victim to end up in that circumstance. Human trafficking victims often do not identify themselves as victims or may not be in a position to leave, creating confusion for service providers and family.


Across the nation human trafficking has been receiving more attention these days. But we know like all causes, this one will not always be in the spotlight. This does not mean it’s going away. It means we need to work harder now to set up networks of support for victims and education for everyone else on preventing, identifying, recovering and helping to restore victims of human trafficking.


Human Trafficking, or slavery, is one of the oldest crimes in the world and currently the second most profitable criminal industry behind drugs (guns rank third). It’s estimated to surpass drugs in the next five years and become the largest criminal industry. Today, it’s a 9.2 billion dollar profit in the United States. Sex trafficking occurs in all countries, all fifty states and territories, and in towns both large and small. It affects people of all ages, races, genders, education and economic levels. The average age of entry into the sex industry is 9-11 for boys and 12-14 for girls. This puts our middle and high school students in high risk. The term “trafficking” was coined in 2000 when The Victims Protection Act made it a federal crime. In 2015, we are now beginning to see more resources available on a federal level. It’s a start.


It’s often called a crime that is Hidden in Plain Sight as it is all around us and yet it takes an average of 5-7 times before a victim will be identified by a service provider. Trafficking is all around us and can be hard to recognize. It’s in our agriculture, restaurants, massage parlors, strip clubs, hotels, schools, manufacturing, among many others. To sum it up, it’s everywhere. The good news is that Racine is ahead of the curve and has developed a nationally recognized model of law enforcemant and social service partnership between the Racine Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the Racine Police Department to eradicate sex trafficking in Racine. We need your support.


It’s only the “crime du jour” to people who do not understand human trafficking. The good news is that there is education out there and the support and awareness is starting to increase. We plan to bring trainings, speakers, films, conferences, meetings and events to Racine to better support the community.


The Racine Coalition Against Human Trafficking is working hard to put resources in place and support agencies that assist victims. The Southeastern Wisconsin Human Trafficking Task Force that investigated this case is also working in partnership with us. For more information on RCAHT visit



Hemmig, Bitting and Meibers Family picturesAbout our guest blogger :

Karri Hemmig is the mother of three children and founder of the Racine Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Karri has a BA in Mass Communication from the College of Charleston and has spent most of her 25-year career in non-profit marketing and public relations. While serving as the Marketing Director for the Cincinnati Area Red Cross in Ohio, she has also worked for National American Red Cross as a member of Disaster Services public affairs team. Currently co-leader of the Dining for Women Racine Chapter, she supports international organizations working to eradicate slavery around the world. Karri is a member of the Racine Police Department’s Human Trafficking Task Force and most recently worked as a victim advocate during the FBI’s Operation Cross Country 2014.



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