Identifying Challenges to Improve the Investigation and Prosecution of State and Local Human Trafficking CasesJul 02, 2012
This study focused on the identification, investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases at the state and local level. The researcher's primary goal was to learn more about the obstacles that hinder law enforcement efforts to locate victims of trafficking and prosecute their traffickers. Researchers examined trafficking cases in a diverse set of 12 U.S. counties and interviewed officials in three counties that reported no trafficking cases. The findings cannot be assumed to apply to the entire country.
Most trafficking cases begin with a tip from someone but rarely from trafficked people themselves. Researchers found that 69 percent of the cases went forward to prosecution, but most were not charged as trafficking cases per se. They were prosecuted under older laws, such as those against promoting prostitution.
State prosecutors cited various reasons for using existing laws:
- A lack of precedent at the state level.
- Many jurisdictions do not have specialized units for prosecution, and have not received training for these cases.
- Many localities do not have the funds to travel to collect evidence. This hampers investigations that cross county and state lines, a common feature of trafficking cases.
- Local prosecutors tend to regard such cases as falling under federal jurisdiction.