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Improving the Investigation and Prosecution of State and Local Human Trafficking Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
National Institute of Justice
This article details an NIJ-funded study that examined the challenges faced in identification, investigation, and prosecution of trafficking cases at the State and local levels with the goal of improving law enforcement efforts to locate victims of trafficking and prosecute their traffickers.
Researchers in this NIJ-funded study focused on the challenges faced in identification, investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases at the state and local levels. The researchers’ primary goal in identifying these challenges was to improve law enforcement efforts to locate victims of trafficking and prosecute their traffickers. The study addressed three main questions: 1) What are the characteristics of local human trafficking investigations and prosecutions?; 2) Do certain types of human trafficking offenses, such as offenses with particular victims or offender characteristics, predict whether prosecution occurs under human trafficking laws or other criminal statutes?; and 3) What are the organizational, structural or cultural factors that inhibit or facilitate the prosecution of human trafficking cases? The researchers identified challenge in three areas of human trafficking casts -- challenges in identifying victims, investigating cases, and prosecuting cases. Recommendations for improving the identification of human trafficking and strategies to improve investigations, included: 1) Prioritizing human trafficking identification in communities and law enforcement agencies; 2) Providing institutional resources specifically for human trafficking; 3) Using proactive investigation strategies; 4) Providing adequate and comprehensive victim services, including adequate shelters; 5) Developing long-term plans to help survivors reintegrate into society; 6) Improving law enforcement training, especially on interviewing techniques; and 7) Establishing open relationships between police and prosecutors.
Date Created: October 23, 2016