On March 21, 2012 at the Belcher Center on the campus of LeTourneau University the LeTourneau Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery Symposium was held (see symposium flyer). The purpose of the symposium was to educate and motivate the public to learn about local, national and international human trafficking and modern-day slavery injustices and how the public can help put human trafficking and modern day slavery to an end.
LeTourneau University Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Paul Rickert, the event organizer, presented a historical overview of slavery in Western Civilization. Rickert, who has been a police officer for 15 years in Virginia and now Texas, has been involved previously in symposia, anti-trafficking legislation, advocacy, and police training in this field. “Many people don’t realize that human trafficking has now surpassed arms trafficking in profitability for criminal organizations,” Rickert said. “This is the second largest and fastest growing criminal activity in the world, generating $32 billion annually.”
His wife, guest speaker Michelle Crawford Rickert is the dean of admissions at Louisiana College School of Law. She discussed a global overview of the current situation of sex trafficking, labor trafficking, chattel slavery and debt bondage. Michelle earned her law degree at George Mason University School of Law, and is pursuing her Masters of Laws degree at the University of London in Legal Philosophy and Human Rights. She is also currently the Managing Editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review at George Mason University School of Law. She has developed and taught several courses on human trafficking, advocated at state and national levels, written laws that have passed in Virginia and has written laws that are before the current Louisiana legislature.
Jessica Mannon represented pureJUSTICE, a ministry of pureHOPE that seeks to create a world free of sexual exploitation and brokenness. Mannon discussed what God says about justice, how trafficking and exploitation relate to the modern Christian community, the connection between pornography and human trafficking, and embracing individual and collective righteousness as the primary method for seeing God’s justice poured out in society.
Norma Mullican of Refuge of Light discussed aftercare issues associated with the physical, mental and spiritual healing of teenage girls who have been victimized in the “sex trafficking” trade in East Texas. Refuge of Light is a nonprofit organization that seeks to establish a long-term safe house in East Texas.
In response to this multi-faceted, global problem, LeTourneau University has approved a specialization in Human Trafficking within the Criminal Justice degree program. The series of courses would be open to other majors as electives and to those who wish to learn about the issue from an explicitly Christian perspective (for credit or audit). The courses will be online to allow extensive outreach into the Christian community.