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Human Trafficking Court Coming to Nashville

(CN) - Nashville will be home to the first human trafficking intervention court in Tennessee and the Southeast, judicial and government officials said.

Similar courts already exist in New York and Chicago, according to a Tuesday press release from the Tennessee Court System.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said the new Davidson County Human Trafficking Intervention Court, which launches Feb. 9, "will aid the court system in solving a vast and critical problem."

"Nashville is a compassionate city with a long history of assisting some of our most vulnerable citizens in turning their lives around," Barry said in a statement.

The Tennessee Court System cites a U.S. State Department statistic that about 27 million people in the United States are victims of human trafficking.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation estimates there were more than 100 cases of minors being trafficked for sex in Nashville in 2014, and an even larger number of adults, according to the press release.

Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland said the new Davidson County court will connect sex trafficking victims to court services.

"Human trafficking is a crime that inflicts terrible harm on the most vulnerable members of society including children, runaways, immigrants and the poor. When these victims arrive in our courts, even as defendants in criminal cases, it gives us an opportunity to work together to stop this criminal enterprise," Moreland said.

The Nashville-area human trafficking court program will have multiple phases, including drug treatment and counseling. Once participants complete the program, their cases will be dismissed and expunged, according to the Tennessee Court System.

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk said the new court "will work to restore those impacted by trafficking and prostitution to safe, law-abiding lives."

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