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Bending Towards Justice: Perceptions of Justice among Human Trafficking Survivors

Award Information

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Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $573,509)

Recent research indicates challenges exist in the identification, investigation and prosecution of labor and sex trafficking cases across the United States. Prosecutors traditionally define success as having secured a conviction against traffickers. Yet, research on victims’ needs suggests that not all victims may best served by, nor desire, traditional criminal prosecutions. We lack recent, in-depth insight into survivors’ perspectives on the legal system and how they feel justice can serve them. The proposed research would greatly benefit our understanding of how survivors encounter the justice system by creating an outlet to learn directly from survivors about their needs for justice, their experiences with the justice system, how they should be involved in this process, and how the criminal and civil justice systems can best serve them. It will also consider whether alternate means of seeking justice, specifically through either procedural justice (justice in processes) and/or transitional justice (justice through traditional and non-traditional forms) would be successful models for seeking remedies and, ultimately, justice, for the significant harm caused by human trafficking. Subjects: Experiences of human trafficking survivors with the criminal justice system. Partnerships: The Urban Institute will work with three consultants from Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago’s Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health. The Urban Institute will also work with agencies working with human trafficking survivors and an Advisory Group of human trafficking survivors. Research Design and Methods: The research team will work with 6-8 legal service provider organizations across the United States to collect data on survivors they have served and conduct outreach to survivors to invite them to participate in the study. We will then conduct semi-structured interviews with approximately 100 survivors of labor and sex trafficking across the United States, including men, women and transgender individuals, foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, and those who have and have not participated in criminal and/or civil proceedings. Analysis: All interviews will be transcribed and coded. Analysis will include both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Products, Reports, and Data Archiving: Project deliverables will include a final report suitable for scholarly publication; a manual for service providers; and a variety of presentations to practitioner and policymaker audiences. Urban Institute will host an event to discuss the findings and policy and practice implications. All data files will be submitted to NIJ for archiving. This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 23, 2015