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Exploring a New Data Platform for Research on Human Trafficking Investigation, Prosecution, Sentencing, Time Served, and Recidivism

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $492,113)

After more than a decade of intense federal and local activity, basic information about the scope of human trafficking is scarce, and fundamental questions about the efficacy of criminal justice responses remain insufficiently answered. The proposed study will provide a new and unique platform derived from two national data collection programs administered by Abt Associates: the Federal Justice Statistics Program (FJSP) and the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP). From FJSP data we will construct offender-level, linked-cycle records for human trafficking cases from investigation through prosecution, corrections, and community reentry. The NCRP gathers individual-level data from 49 state prison systems, and in conjunction with FJSP data allows us to capture recidivism of traffickers at both federal and state levels. The FJSP platform provides the study's backbone, and we will demonstrate its utility for applied research on Federal system processing of trafficking cases as well as sentencing patterns, conviction rates, time served, community reentry, and recidivism. To explain and interpret what we find in our examinations of the FJSP/NCRP data, we will interview 90 expert practitioners and will examine 500 pre-sentence investigation reports (PSRs) to examine the prevalence and types of human trafficking cases that result in convictions for other offenses.The study is designed to provide information of pragmatic value to practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers. The separate studies of human trafficker prosecution, time served, and recidivism will be of unprecedented scope and constitute unique contributions to the field. The data platform we create for the study, and our proof of concept studies, will add an entirely new avenue of investigations of human trafficking. Its longitudinal, cumulative nature can be used for program and policy evaluation using time-series designs (e.g., difference-in-difference, regression discontinuity), and the map of the system processing of trafficking cases may point to areas of system improvement. The study's methods and results will be disseminated via peer reviewed journal manuscript; briefing paper delivered to NIJ; briefing papers placed in law enforcement and corrections professional organization magazines and/or websites; webinars describing the study and its implications; at least one conference presentation; and in-person briefings with federal agency leaders.
The proposed team is uniquely qualified to conduct this study. We currently administer both the FJSP and NCRP, and have created programs linking individuals across datasets and years; have ongoing projects involving human trafficking data extractions from PSRs, and have recognized expertise in human
trafficking research and applying advanced analytic methods.

Date Created: September 16, 2014