Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Katie. And thank you, First Lady Kemp, for the chance to join you today – and for all that you and the Governor do for the people of this great state. My thanks to you, as well, Attorney General Carr, for serving as our master of ceremonies and for being a champion of law and order here in Georgia. And thank you, BJay and Charlie, for the outstanding job you both do to fight crime and protect the people of your districts.
On behalf of the Department of Justice and our Attorney General, Bill Barr, it’s an honor to be here in Atlanta. It’s also a privilege to be here in this capitol building, which is one of the nation’s true historic and architectural landmarks. It is a fitting place to do the people’s business.
It’s wonderful to see so many people here today: public safety professionals, victim advocates and service providers, and the dedicated members of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council – all of you so deeply committed to the safety of Georgia’s citizens. We are grateful for all you do to keep your communities safe, and we are so proud to support you as you do the tough work of enforcing the law, pursuing criminals, and serving victims.
All of us at the Department of Justice – from the Attorney General on down – understand what it takes to do this difficult work. We are here to pledge our support to you – our moral support and our material support. It is my privilege today, on behalf of the Attorney General, to announce substantial federal investments in the safety of Georgia’s communities. I am proud to announce that the Department of Justice is awarding almost $153 million in public safety grants to agencies and organizations across this great state. These grants will support Georgia’s great law enforcement professionals. They will help community agencies and non-profit groups provide critical services to crime victims. They will go toward fighting domestic and sexual violence. And they will fund a host of programs aimed at strengthening the state’s criminal and juvenile justice systems.
I am especially pleased that a portion of these funds – nearly $4.3 million – is dedicated to helping professionals throughout Georgia fight human trafficking and deliver much-needed aid to trafficking survivors. A ruthless global network of exploitation, enslavement, and abuse affects millions of people worldwide and thousands right here in this country. In Georgia alone, 375 human trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year. Most of those cases involved commercial sexual exploitation, and almost a quarter involved youth. Human trafficking is a cruel and barbaric crime regardless of the age of the victim. When the victims are children, it is unspeakable.
Human trafficking is, of course, hardly unique to Georgia. We see it, often hiding in plain sight, in states and cities across America. No community is immune. Which is why the funding we’re providing to Georgia is part of an even larger, nationwide investment. A total of almost $97 million is going to agencies and organizations across the country to help them fight traffickers and serve victims. Funds will also support services for child and youth victims of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. And a portion of the funding will support critical research that will help us to better combat trafficking crimes and better serve victims.
The people of Georgia are very fortunate that their elected officials take this problem seriously and are moving on all fronts to combat it. We applaud the recent establishment of a Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit in the Georgia Department of Law. This move sends a powerful message to traffickers that their actions will not be tolerated.
Just as important, if not more important, Georgia is acting with compassion and resolve to address the needs of human trafficking survivors. The GRACE Commission, co-chaired by the First Lady, is not only a terrific acronym, it is an outstanding example of public leadership to meet a major public safety crisis. We commend the First Lady and the commission’s members for leading the fight against human trafficking. It is a fight that, with their help, I know we can win.
And my thanks, as well, to all the men and women, professionals and volunteers, who show up to work every day with one goal in mind – to protect the people of Georgia. We are truly grateful for your service, and we are so very proud to be your partners.