This is the executive summary of the report on a project that examined practices and initiatives in prosecuting cases of trafficking in persons (TIP) in jurisdictions across the United States.
The study’s goals were to learn about TIP case identification and case building; when jurisdictions prosecute traffickers using a state TIP statute or use alternative charges and why; and how prosecutors approach victim identification, serving victims, and increasing convictions and penalties for traffickers and buyers. The study also intended to develop lessons learned that other jurisdictions could use to initiate or increase their capacity and effectiveness in countering TIP, regardless of jurisdictional size or location. The study methodology involved two phases. Phase I was a national survey of prosecutors, which intended to provide a nationwide overview of trends in local TIP prosecutions and the use of state TIP statutes by local prosecutors. Phase II of the study was a series of four case studies of jurisdictions that have anti-TIP initiatives. The four case studies involved San Diego, Miami, New York, and Ramsey County/St. Paul. Survey results showed there is still more to do in developing and implementing strategies to counter TIP and serve its victims; however, the case studies showed the results possible when TIP training is undertaken seriously and collaboratively across sectors, beginning with training jurisdictions to recognize the problem. Fewer jurisdictions said that TIP was not a problem in their community than previously in the states covered by the case studies, and jurisdictions were beginning to emphasize the proactive identification of TIP victims. Five key recommendations are offered for countering TIP and serving its victims, and future research is suggested. 2 tables