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Human-Trafficking and the State Courts

Beginning in FY 2013, SJI is supporting a Strategic Initiatives Grant (SIG) to the Center for Public Policy Studies/The National Judicial College/Center for Court Innovation (CPPS/NJC/CCI) to form a Human Trafficking and the State Courts Collaborative focused on 4 strategic priorities: 1) increasing understanding and awareness about the challenges faced by state courts in dealing with cases involving trafficking victims and their families, and traffickers; 2) developing and testing state and local approaches for assessing and addressing the impact of human trafficking victims and defendants in the state courts; 3) enhancing state and local court capacity to improve court services affected by human trafficking-related cases processing demands; and 4) building effective national, state, and local partnerships for addressing the impacts of human trafficking case processing in the state courts.

The Collaborative will result in a variety of products benefiting the state courts, including:
  • A comprehensive resource inventory of background information about the demographics, scope, dynamics, and implications for the courts and justice system of various forms of human trafficking;
  • Measurement framework that includes measures and tools for monitoring the impacts of human trafficking case processing in the state courts;
  • Summary of changes in federal and state trafficking law, policy, and practice that might better serve the interests of the state courts;
  • A human trafficking and the state courts web-based resource network and clearinghouse for judges and court personnel;
  • A best practices toolkit for jurisdictions interested in establishing a specialized prostitution/trafficking court;
  • A series of bench cards targeting human trafficking-related issues;
  • Best practice guidelines;
  • Model planning and technical assistance process and supporting materials;
  • Training on human trafficking via 12 courses for judges;
  • Intensive technical assistance in six jurisdictions, and proven nationally applicable technical assistance approaches; and
  • Published articles in various court periodicals about the project and the issue in general.

The three members of the Collaborative each bring specific expertise to these efforts, and will work together to accomplish these goals. CPPS has already developed expertise in delivering statewide technical assistance through its work on the SJI-funded Immigration and the state courts initiative. NJC has previously developed training for judges on human trafficking. CCI has experience helping jurisdictions set up specialized prostitution/trafficking courts. In addition to eliminating the “stove-pipe” effect of separate organizations conducting projects with little to no coordination, the Collaborative will also establish what may become a permanent network of courts and court associations and organizations committed to this issue.

The Collaborative has a website that will serve as a portal for all the TA work, education/training, and resources associated with this project. Each member of the Collaborative will provide updates on their activities using the website, providing a centralized location for all the information available on this critical issue.