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Prosecuting Trafficking in Persons Cases: An Analysis of Local Strategies and Approaches, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2020
360 pages

This project examined practices and initiatives by prosecutors across the United States to address trafficking in persons (TIP).


The study focused on TIP 1) case identification and case-building; 2) when jurisdictions prosecute TIP under state statutes that target TIP or use alternative charges; and 3) how prosecutors approach victim identification, victim services, and increasing convictions and penalties for traffickers and buyers. 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. This survey provided a 10-year update to and expansion of previous research on local prosecutorial approaches to TIP that had used data on cases prosecuted through 2008. Phase II of the current study was a series of four case studies of jurisdictions that have anti-TIP initiatives. Survey results indicated that local prosecutors have made significant progress in prosecuting TIP cases, based on the enforcement of their states’ laws; and they are engaged in practices intended to reach more victims and convict more offenders; however, the progress was uneven and needs improvement. The survey results also provided a context for the four case studies of Phase II. The four cases studies involved San Diego, Miami, New York, and Ramsey County/St. Paul. All four jurisdictions reported having prosecutorial staff, law enforcement officers, social workers, and others who are trained in trauma-informed interviewing and delivering or coordinating trauma-informed victim services. All sites reported having victim-centered prosecution techniques, working to increase enforcement of TIP laws (both selling and buying sex), and to increase the amount of dedicated trafficking beds in secure, long-term housing.  Extensive tables, 91 references, and appended study instruments

Date Published: October 1, 2020