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Helpful and Harmful Practices for Addressing Alleged Transnational Crimes in Somali-American Communities

NCJ Number
Stevan Weine; Edna Erez; Chloe Polutnik
Date Published
August 2018
3 pages
As part of a study that sought to develop scientific knowledge on the emergence and trajectories of alleged violent extremism and trafficking in persons in Somali-American communities in the United States, this report identifies helpful and harmful practices in addressing these transnational crimes.
Some risk factors that contribute to both violent extremism and trafficking in persons for commercial sex include perceived discrimination due to racial and ethnic identity, including social exclusion and discrimination because Muslims are regarded as being linked to terrorism. Another risk factor is the view among many Somali-Americans that sex work and violent extremism are not crimes in themselves, but are reflective of subjective moral perspectives. Another risk factor is weak collective efficacy, which fuels a sense of community dis-empowerment. There is also mistrust of law enforcement agencies among Somali-Americans, as well as a lack of familiarity with and reluctance to cooperate with criminal justice agencies. Recommended practices for Somali-American communities include building effective and sustainable prevention programming, the strengthening of police-community relations, an increase in programming that targets community needs, and avoidance of profiling Somalis and engaging in other discriminatory assumptions and practices. In addition to recommendations for strengthening community practices among Somali-Americans, recommendations for strengthening criminal justice policy and practices regarding Somali-Americans are also outlined.