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Finding Victims of Human Trafficking

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2008
93 pages
This study responds to a Congressional mandate and examines human trafficking experiences among a random sample of 60 counties across the United States.
The findings suggest that local awareness levels and enforcement approaches were associated with whether or not sites had State trafficking statutes. That is, law enforcement respondents in sites with State trafficking statutes were more aware of the issue and were more likely to have received training and to have implemented proactive strategies to respond to the problem. Sites with State trafficking statutes also were more likely to have collaborated and/or to be actively collaborating with Federal authorities in responding to the problem. Several recommendations for policy and practice and future research are presented and discussed. Highlights of select recommendations include: (1) expand and provide training to law enforcement and prosecutors that clearly distinguishes the various trafficking offenses, such as smuggling, domestic human trafficking, and sex trafficking; and how to identify, investigate, make cases against perpetrators and find assistance for victims; (2) develop and provide technical assistance on maintaining adequate recordkeeping systems at the local level to track and monitor sex-related cases and investigations; and (3) make resources available for law enforcement and service providers to focus on human trafficking offenses. Human trafficking is a newly recognized but fast-growing criminal industry. Currently, however, little is known about the extent of human trafficking in the United States. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act passed by Congress in 2005 expanded the trafficking focus and concern and sought to enhance the protection of victims of trafficking in persons. This study supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, responds to the Congressional mandate to (1) identify victims and potential victims of domestic trafficking; (2) determine whether victims have been identified as such by law enforcement; and (3) explore differences between sex trafficking and unlawful commercial sex. It examines human trafficking experiences among a sample of 60 counties across the country.

Date Published: September 1, 2008