(COLORADO SPRINGS) — How serious and prevalent is human trafficking in Colorado? The 15th annual Human Trafficking Symposium will uncover the dark truths of human trafficking masked within communities in Colorado on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Jennisue Jessen, PhD

And Justice For All,” will be hosted at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) Berger Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The symposium will feature a special guest speaker, Jennisue Jessen, PhD, a human trafficking survivor who was trafficked between the ages of four and 17, according to the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado.

Jessen has dedicated her life to the counter-trafficking movement, and is also the Founder and CEO of Compass 31, “an international NGO that fights human trafficking through prevention, restoration, and leadership development.” 

Jessen is also a member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

“Human trafficking is not just a distant, global issue, but happens across Colorado, in our city, our neighborhoods, and our schools,” stated Jessen. “Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise with many persons being exploited along the I-25 corridor.”

Saturday’s event will also explore the impact of legislative changes over the past 15 years, along with ongoing enforcement efforts. “And Justice For All,” will include the following speakers and subject matter, in addition to Jessen:

  • Kara Napolitano, Research and Training Manager at the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (LCHT) will begin the day with Human Trafficking in Colorado. Napolitano has trained thousands of community members across Colorado in anti-trafficking.
  • Christian Gardner-Wood, J.D., Chair of the Colorado Human Trafficking Council and Chief Deputy District Attorney for the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, will examine the legislative progress made over the past decade and a half, along with laws and policies needed in the future.
  • Lieutenant Alan Van’t Land, former Metro Vice Unit supervisor with the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) will address local law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking in Colorado.

Jessen added that the best way to protect those we love, is to learn about this crime and what remains to be done for the vulnerable in our communities If you want to learn more about human trafficking in Colorado, the symposium will be free and open to the public.