This project examined practices and initiatives by prosecutors across the United States to address trafficking in persons (TIP).
The study focused on TIP 1) case identification and case-building; 2) when jurisdictions prosecute TIP under state statutes that target TIP or use alternative charges; and 3) how prosecutors approach victim identification, victim services, and increasing convictions and penalties for traffickers and buyers. The study methodology involved two phases. Phase I was a national survey of prosecutors, which intended to provide a nationwide overview of trends in local TIP prosecutions and the use of state TIP statutes by local prosecutors. This survey provided a 10-year update to and expansion of previous research on local prosecutorial approaches to TIP that had used data on cases prosecuted through 2008. Phase II of the current study was a series of four case studies of jurisdictions that have anti-TIP initiatives. Survey results indicated that local prosecutors have made significant progress in prosecuting TIP cases, based on the enforcement of their states’ laws; and they are engaged in practices intended to reach more victims and convict more offenders; however, the progress was uneven and needs improvement. The survey results also provided a context for the four case studies of Phase II. The four cases studies involved San Diego, Miami, New York, and Ramsey County/St. Paul. All four jurisdictions reported having prosecutorial staff, law enforcement officers, social workers, and others who are trained in trauma-informed interviewing and delivering or coordinating trauma-informed victim services. All sites reported having victim-centered prosecution techniques, working to increase enforcement of TIP laws (both selling and buying sex), and to increase the amount of dedicated trafficking beds in secure, long-term housing. Extensive tables, 91 references, and appended study instruments