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District Attorney Donald du Bain, left, and Carissa Phelps speak about Solano County law enforcement against human trafficking at the Solano County Events Center in Fairfield, Wednesday. Phelps and du Bain met to train local law enforcement officials on human trafficking. Phelps started Runaway Girl, an organization that provides resources for survivors of human trafficking and trains law enforcement officials on responding to human trafficking. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Solano DA hosts workshop to fight human trafficking

By From page A3 | April 17, 2014

FAIRFIELD – The Solano County District Attorney’s Office advanced its campaign against human trafficking Wednesday by bringing in an expert – who survived being a victim to talk – to local law enforcement about what to look for and how to combat the problem.

District Attorney Donald du Bain and Sheriff Thomas Ferrara said the workshop is their followup to the task force started last year to come up with ways to help local law enforcement and social services better detect, investigate and prosecute human trafficking.

A noontime press conference was part of a daylong workshop headlined by anti-trafficking advocate Carissa Phelps, head of the nonprofit Runaway Girl. She talked about the human trafficking problem and showed testimonies from those who suffered as victims.

“We know this exists, but most folks are not aware of how big a problem this is,” Ferrara said.

The workshop was led by Phelps, who talked to law enforcement officers, prosecutors and terrorism liaison officers about how to find and help human trafficking survivors, who are often hesitant to work with law enforcement officers and to request services or assistance.

“We are grateful to have one of the leading experts on human trafficking here,” Du Bain said.

Phelps was abandoned when she was 12, dropped out of school and fell into the arms of a brutal trafficker. She was unable to escape from the pain and shame of sexual assault and abuse until she met a juvenile hall staff member and a juvenile hall math teacher, who helped her escape that life.

By the time Phelps turned 30, she accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with a law degree and a master’s degree in business administration. Her story is documented in her memoir, “Runaway Girl.”

Phelps now organizes resources for survivors of human trafficking, including social networks and people who protect and care for survivors. Runaway Girl offers training to improve responses to human trafficking within communities, while offering employment and career development opportunities to runaways, former runaways and survivors of human trafficking.

“People who have been through this have to be at the table,” Phelps said of working with law enforcement to combat human trafficking. “If this was in place, my own trafficking would have ended a lot sooner. We have to overcome the disbelief that this is happening.”

Du Bain said he does not know enough about how prevalent human trafficking is in Solano County, but said the creation last year of a county task force to take on the problem will give local law enforcement the information and programs it needs to find solutions to the problem here.

Anyone who suspects human trafficking or who are victims of it can call 888-373-7888 or email Phelps at [email protected]

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.

Discussion | 17 comments

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 6:19 am

    It's too bad that because of the corruption/failure of office these two men have been shown to perpetrate, that anything seemingly good they do must be called into question. You just about have to ask, "what's their angle, how are they trying to benefit themselves personally or politically?" Both du Bain and Ferrara have given the public sufficient reason to ask these questions. That's such a shame and not what we want in our elected "leaders".

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  • SalApril 17, 2014 - 10:05 am

    Mister you are quick to chide everyone else except Pam Bertani, can you enlighten us to what she has done that makes her better than the rest?

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 10:27 am

    Come on, Sally, you know I'm no Pam-fan. But if you insist I say something nice about Pam, then here goes: I don't believe Pam has the smarts to be as corrupt as the incumbents... but she does seem to be a faster learner. There, Sal... does that make you happy?

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  • CD BrooksApril 17, 2014 - 10:46 am

    The Mister, I often wonder what paper these folks are reading? ATTENTION: The Mister DOES NOT support Pam Bertani. This has been a public service announcement by we that comprehend the English language. Thank you.

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 11:03 am

    Thank you, CD!

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  • SalApril 17, 2014 - 12:41 pm

    Birds of a feather

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  • Rich GiddensApril 17, 2014 - 7:02 am

    DuBain, Ferrara and your State's contemptible leaders are wholly incapable of shutting down even neighborhood minor nuisances without blaming the victims. They just want bigger empires and more tax money. They and their State stink!

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  • Not a Don dub fanApril 17, 2014 - 12:52 pm

    Im just wondering, is there that much human trafficking going on in Solano County that we have a workshop for this and not like something we have a big problem with such as homelessness. duBain should know about the homeless problem, he spends all day at Starbucks where they hang out

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 2:46 pm

    Sorry for the following but I'm trying to post a relevant comment that contains nothing offending AND it won't post. So, I'm going to post my comment in several small bits to find the "offending" word. Thanks for your patience. (Perhaps the DR could tweak their system?)

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    (1) Contra Costa County is the hot-spot for human trafficking in northern California.

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 2:48 pm

    (2) It makes sense that Solano County should be aware of that and do things to prevent it from moving this way.

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 2:49 pm

    (3) We could put a check point on the bridges from Contra Costa County,

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 2:50 pm

    (4) stop vehicles, collect money,

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 2:52 pm

    (5) oh, and maybe be on alert for

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 2:56 pm

    (6) s u s p i c i o u s

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  • The MisterApril 17, 2014 - 2:57 pm

    (7) activity in the vehicle. Naah, that would never happen.

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  • GOP 2016 Convention in Las Vegas?April 17, 2014 - 6:04 pm

    GOP Selection Committee Chair is...... Enid Greene Mickelsen represented Utah in the United States House of Representatives in the 104th Congress (1995-96), where she served on the powerful House Rules Committee. A former litigation attorney with a major Salt Lake City firm, she worked as deputy chief of staff to Governor Norman H. Bangerter. Mrs. Mickelsen is a former Chairman of the Utah Republican Party, and is currently Utah’s National Committeewoman to the Republican National Committee, where she serves on the Budget Committee and the Rules Committee. Mrs. Mickelsen received her undergraduate degree at the University of Utah and her law degree from Brigham Young University..... Google.... las vegas human trafficking .... I should think the GOP would not do something as Rovian and Barney Frankian as pick Las Vegas for their Convention.... Will they never learn... and turn the stars point up again and quit saluting Satan in this manner.

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