A New Court in Cumberland County Joins the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Sec. Hooks posed with two people holding award certificates
Monday, December 16, 2019 - 2:03pm

Every year, millions of women, children and men around the world become the victims of human trafficking., subjecting them to forced labor or sexual exploitation.  North Carolina consistently ranks within the Top 10 states with the most reported number of human trafficking cases. 

Often, people being trafficked find themselves charged with crimes related to the situation they have been forced into – crimes like prostitution or theft.  In Cumberland County, a first-of-its-kind court in North Carolina is underway to review those cases and assist the victims of trafficking by offering services like counseling, medical care, education and job skills to help them break out of their situation.  District Court Judge Toni King presides over the court, which can also assist by reducing or dismissing charges against those appearing in court. 

The court is called WORTH Court, which stands for We Overcome Recidivism Through Healing.  Local law enforcement in Cumberland County has made human trafficking a priority, which partly explains why that county has the highest number of trafficking prosecutions. 

DPS Sec. Erik Hooks recently presented certificates of appreciation to Cumberland County DA Billy West and Judge King for their continued support of this important initiative. DPS is very active in combating the problem of trafficking.  Chief Deputy Secretary Pam Cashwell is a member of the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission, and there is significant participation from law enforcement and Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.

The court is funded by a grant from the Trafficking Commission, the legislatively mandated leader of anti-human trafficking efforts in the state. Their efforts are working. Last year, North Carolina received an “A” rating in the national fight against human trafficking according to a recent report by Shared Hope International.  Ending human trafficking is a communitywide effort. 

Help us raise awareness. Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 to ask questions, report an incident or find help for a potential victim. 

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. 

Greg Thomas