North Dakota could be getting $1 million in state funding to combat human trafficking if a new bill passes.
Some believe that funding is needed.
“It just got done,” says Lana Bonnet.
It just got done the best way Bonnet knew how when she first began working with human trafficking victims in 2011. But as the director of primarily a sexual assault and domestic violence shelter, it was, at times, challenging.
” It was very hectic and very draining. Because they needed that assistance. They needed that one on one and it was really hard. So I was very thankful for this funding so we could hire someone to take that spot.,” Bonnet explains.
The $79,000 grant The Family Crisis Shelter received last year helped fund a human trafficking case manager position created one year ago.
“It’s still here. We’re still seeing victims,” says Bonnet.
How many victims, though, is difficult to assess. For instance, the Bismarck Police Department’s 2015 crime report lists human trafficking cases under the crime of kidnapping. It’s unclear based on the report how many of the 20 kidnapping cases in Bismarck in 2015 were actually human trafficking cases.
While Bonnet still works with human trafficking victims, she feels the state has provided adequate funding to assist organizations like hers. But she does feel there is a shortfall of another kind.
“Domestic violence, I feel that funding could be more. More funding for that. Just because it’s more prevalent and that’s something that we see every day and we’re working with that every single day. And sexual assaults,” says Bonnet.
And specifically, she would like to see more funding to attend national training sessions.
So that treatment centers can excel at getting the job done instead of just getting by.
Last year, 17 human trafficking cases in North Dakota were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.