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Bending Towards Justice: Perceptions of Justice among Human Trafficking Survivors

NCJ Number
Jeanette Hussemann; Colleen Owens; Hanna Love; Lilly Yu; Evelyn McCoy; Abbey Flynn; Kyla Woods
Date Published
April 2018
46 pages
This study identified gaps in knowledge about how survivors of human trafficking and stakeholders involved in their cases perceive justice in managing their cases, with attention to the potential for using alternative models of justice in these cases.
The study conducted semi-structured interviews with 80 survivors of human trafficking and 100 social-services and criminal-justice stakeholders in eight diverse sites in the United States. An analysis of the interviews determined that most survivors did not support traditional forms of retributive justice for their traffickers, such as incarceration. Rather, their preference for justice was to focus on preventing human trafficking. Survivors' perceptions of justice for themselves focused on receiving assistance in achieving independence and receiving resources that helped them achieve self-defined goals. Both the survivors and stakeholders interviewed expressed concern about the criminal justice system's ability to help survivors achieve their desired outcomes. Survivors who became involved in traditional criminal justice processing were less likely to indicate they felt involved in the decisions made in their cases; however, they generally felt that they were treated with respect by both service providers and some criminal justice stakeholders. Both survivors and social-service providers viewed alternative forms of justice - such as procedural, restorative, and transitional justice - as structures for helping survivors achieve individualized goals. These findings provide the most comprehensive understanding to date of how human trafficking survivors and stakeholders perceive justice in cases of human trafficking. This should provide guidance for how the structure for managing such cases could be improved. 2 tables, 1 figure, and appended interview protocols and questions