Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $339,001)
After a decade of efforts to combat human trafficking in the United States through legislation, law enforcement, victim services, and public awareness, it is critical to begin to assess what legislative, legal, and civic responses have been most effective in achieving the desired outcome of reducing opportunities and instances of human trafficking. This project will begin to fill gaps in our understanding of effective anti-trafficking responses by evaluating three strategic platforms to combat human trafficking in the U.S. First, the project will examine the effectiveness of state-level human trafficking legislation. To fulfill this objective, the project team will code the trafficking legislation in all fifty states, gather data on the number of prosecutions and adjudicatory outcomes of each prosecution for offenses under human trafficking statutes in each state, and then model the impact of anti-trafficking statutes on state prosecutions and convictions. Second, the project will evaluate how evidentiary factors predict human trafficking prosecutions and convictions. For this platform, the project team will create and analyze a database that catalogues the legal and extra-legal characteristics of state human trafficking prosecutions to date. This will allow us to ascertain the legal processes that have led to successful prosecutions. Third, the project will explore public opinion on human trafficking through a nationally representative survey containing embedded experiments. The proposed survey experiment will illustrate the current state of public opinion on human trafficking, present a more complete picture of why the public holds the beliefs that they do, and perhaps most importantly, identify strategies to effectively bolster public awareness of and interest in this vital human rights issue.