The Brazos County Commissioners Court approved an agreement Tuesday morning that will allow a local human trafficking prevention and awareness organization to work in the Brazos County Detention Center.
The non-financial memorandum of understanding allows Unbound BCS affiliates to enter the detention center to teach curriculum on human trafficking awareness and prevention. It also permits Unbound to provide referrals to individuals in the detention center’s reentry program.
Unbound BCS Executive Director Amanda Buenger spoke before the court Tuesday and expressed gratitude for its support and for the agreement.
“It will provide education and awareness to women who are coming out of incarceration through the reentry program,” Buenger said. “What Unbound will do is educate these women on vulnerabilities of human trafficking, how it’s happening in our community and what they should be aware of when they are transitioning and getting back on their feet.”
Unbound BCS’s website defines human trafficking as occurring “any time a person is forced, tricked or manipulated into providing labor or sexual service for someone else’s financial gain.”
Buenger said that most trafficking perpetrators abuse and manipulate victims close to them, and such abuse happens in cities large and small.
“It starts with dispelling the myth that trafficking looks one way,” Buenger said of her organization’s awareness work. “People have this image from what culture and movies portray of a kidnapping scenario, and 90 percent of the time the person being trafficked has a very intimate relationship with the person who is trafficking them.”
During the meeting, Sheriff Chris Kirk, Juvenile Services Director Linda Ricketson and multiple commissioners praised Unbound’s work in the community and spoke to its importance. Brazos County Jail Administrator Wayne Dicky said after the meeting that the partnership is part of a larger effort to provide resources to those in jail and to those reentering the broader society.
“What the agreement will allow to happen is for Unbound to come in to the facility and primarily provide education to people about what the signs of human trafficking are,” Dicky said. “We think that education will be valuable particularly to the women in custody. Not exclusively, but particularly to the women in custody so they kind of know what those scenarios look like.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Irma Cauley asked Buenger during the meeting about support options for male victims and survivors of trafficking. Buenger said that mentorships and other means support are available for a variety of populations.
“We provide services to males, females, youth, minors and adults,” Buenger said.
Unbound BCS employs two staff members and has a board of directors. It works with about 50 volunteers who serve in a variety of capacities, Buenger said.
Unbound was founded in 2012 through Antioch Community Church in Waco. Buenger, who is also a child welfare attorney, said that she founded the Bryan-College Station chapter of the organization in 2017.