Human Trafficking

Justice practitioners are increasingly recognizing that prostitution is often a form of human trafficking. In response, judges, courts, and other critical stakeholders are developing new approaches—rather than fines and jail time—to address the complex and overlapping problems, including violence, fear, trauma, abuse, and drug addiction, that keep many prostituted women, men, and children in “the life” of prostitution.

Technical Assistance

The Center for Court Innovation offers free technical assistance, supported by the State Justice Institute, to jurisdictions across the United States interested in planning, implementing, or enhancing a court-based response to human trafficking. The Center is part of the Human Trafficking and the State Courts Collaborative, through which it develops customized training and technical assistance plans, planning materials, and publications for a wide range of criminal justice practitioners. For more information or to request training and technical assistance, click here.

In The News

  • Citing the pioneering work of Midtown Community Court, Side Effects Public Media profiles a trauma-informed court for victims of human trafficking in Columbus, Ohio.
  • The New York Law Journal covers the National Summit on Human Trafficking and the State Courts, which drew over 300 attendees from 51 states and U.S. territories.
  • FOX news covers the launch of the Phoenix Court in Austin (TX), a new prostitution diversion court that aims to help victims.
  • The Human Trafficking and the State Courts Collaborative releases its Guide to Human Trafficking for State Courts in partnership with the State Justice Institute and the National Association of Court Managers (NACM).
  • A post from Inside/Out, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) blog, covers the unique collaboration between the Midtown Community Court's comprehensive prostitution diversion program and MoMA.
  • A Wall Street Journal article covers the launch of New York's statewide court initiative for people arrested for prostitution, many of whom are victims of trafficking.
  • An op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times debunks the myth that "the sex industry is a playground of freely consenting adults." Instead, "Sex trafficking is one of the most severe human rights violations in America today," he writes.
  • Planning Tools and Resources

    Responding to Sex Trafficking in Your Jurisdiction: A Planning Toolkit

    This comprehensive toolkit offers step-by-step instructions to help courts and communities assess their current approaches to human trafficking and prostitution, and develop or enhance a court-based response.

    Identifying and Responding to Sex Trafficking: A Guide for the Courts

    This guide offers concrete steps for judges and court staff to enhance their ability to respond effectively and sensitively to these difficult cases.

    Community Courts, Specialized Dockets, and Other Approaches to Address Sex Trafficking

    This article explores court responses to human trafficking in a range of jurisdictions

    Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Assault: Strategies to Strengthen Community Collaboration to Respond to Survivors' Needs

    This five-part webinar series offers strategies, practical tips, case studies, and resources to help domestic violence and sexual assault service providers improve outcomes for human trafficking survivors. 

    The Intersection of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Human Trafficking

    This fact sheet explores the complex relationship between domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking and offers strategies for developing effective justice-system responses.

    Audio

    Houston's SAFE Court Offers Victims of Human Trafficking a New Path

    Houston's SAFE Court Offers Victims of Human Trafficking a New Path

    In this New Thinking podcast, Ann Johnson, an assistant district attorney and the human trafficking section chief with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, discusses her office's strategies for combating human trafficking, including increased enforcement against traffickers and buyers, and diversion from prosecution for victims. One of the office's diversion programs, SAFE Court, gives those aged 17 to 25 who are charged with prostitution the opportunity to clear the charge from their criminal records by completing a year-long program of monitoring and social services. SAFE Court was created with support from a Smart Prosecution grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. To learn more, visit the Association of Prosecuting Attorney's Smart Prosecution website.

    Links

    The Intersection between Prostitution, Human Trafficking, and Victimization Among Justice-Involved Women

    The National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women, in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation, conducted a webinar titled to explore the nexus between prostitution, human trafficking, and victimization among justice involved women. The webinar discussed strategies that justice system stakeholders can take to identify women who may be victims of exploitation and human trafficking, address their needs, and improve their response to these women.

    http://cjinvolvedwomen.org/featured-news/upcoming-webinar-the-intersection-betwe...

    Articles

    Announcement of New York's Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative

    Announcement of New York's Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative

    By Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman

    New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman delivered the following remarks at the Citizens Crime Commission on September 25, 2013, announcing the launch of New York's statewide Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative. In New York, human trafficking is largely dominated by the sex trade, and prostitutes are often victims of coercion, neglect, and abuse. Building on pilot programs operating in Queens, midtown Manhattan, and Nassau County that connect those arrested for prostitution to counseling and social services in lieu of jail-time, the New York judiciary's initiative represents a significant shift in the way prostitution is viewed by the justice system and communities.

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    Publications

    Prostitution Diversion Programs

    Prostitution Diversion Programs

    By Sarah Schweig, Danielle Malangone and Miriam Goodman

    Many communities across the country grapple with how best to respond to prostitution.

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    Interviews

    Changing Perceptions: A Conversation on Prostitution Diversion with Judge Fernando Camacho

    Changing Perceptions: A Conversation on Prostitution Diversion with Judge Fernando Camacho

    Queens County (NY) Judge Fernando Camacho discusses why he created a prostitution diversion court that helps victims leave a life of prostitution by linking them to counseling and social services instead of sentencing them to jail time.

    Read More

    Interviews

    'Victims, Not Perpetrators': Ohio's Changing Actions To Change Habits Court

    'Victims, Not Perpetrators': Ohio's Changing Actions To Change Habits Court

    Judge Paul M. Herbert of the Changing Actions To Change Habits Court in Ohio's Franklin County Municipal Court explains how a problem-solving approach to prostitution treats offenders as victims, giving them the support and links to social services they need to escape a cycle of exploitation and abuse. 

    Most Popular Research

    Publications

    The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City: Executive Summary

    The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City: Executive Summary

    By Ric Curtis, Meredith Dank, Kirk Dombrowski, Bilal Khan, Melissa Labriola, Amy Muslim, Michael Rempel and Karen Terry

    This Executive Summary highlights major findings from a two-volume study exploring the problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children and evaluating a coordinated effort to find solutions in New York City.

    Publications

    The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City: Volume One

    The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City: Volume One

    By Ric Curtis, Meredith Dank, Kirk Dombrowski, Bilal Khan and Karen Terry

    A multi-method study to estimate the size, characteristics, needs, and geographic spread of New York City's commercial sexual exploitation of children population.

    Publications

    The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City: Volume Two

    The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City: Volume Two

    By Melissa Labriola, Amy Muslim and Michael Rempel

    An evaluation of New York City's ambitious initiative to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The evaluation documents achievements, obstacles, and lessons learned for other jurisdictions.

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