By Marc Kovac
The state has hired its first human-trafficking coordinator to spearhead efforts to combat forced prostitution and labor.
Elizabeth Ranade Janis will work out of the Department of Public Safety’s office of criminal-justice services. She holds degrees from Ohio State University and Georgetown University and most recently was manager of humanitarian and emergency affairs at Washington, D.C.-based World Vision.
The hiring was announced Friday, the same day advocates gathered at the Statehouse for a human-trafficking awareness day, reviewing efforts in recent years to crack down on what has been called “modern-day slavery” and eyeing potential law changes.
“It is the human-rights issue of our lifetime,” said Rep. Teresa Fedor, a Democrat from Toledo who has carried legislation and pushed for greater awareness of the issue.
State officials have adopted policy changes and passed legislation to increase criminal penalties and institute mand- atory prison sentences against pimps and offer counseling and better services to victims.
Both Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine have focused additional attention on human trafficking through appointed panels that have offered recommendations.
In a speech at Friday’s awareness day at the Statehouse, Kasich said more needs to be done.
“We have to constantly work on this issue,” he said, adding later, “We need to clean this state out. If we catch ’em, they’re going to jail.”