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Human Trafficking and the State Courts Collaborative Included in Strategic Action Plan on Human Trafficking

On January 14, 2014, the first-ever Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States was released. After several months of coordination with the White House, Executive Branch agencies, and other entities, the SJI-sponsored Human Trafficking and the State Courts Collaborative was included as a part of this national effort (see pages 33-34, and 60). While SJI’s contribution to the plan appears small, it is in fact one of the only components of the plan that includes the state courts as a justice system stakeholder in addressing human trafficking.

The plan lays out a five-year path for increased coordination, collaboration, and capacity across the federal government and in partnership with other governmental and nongovernmental entities at all levels. It describes the steps that federal agencies will take to ensure that all victims of human trafficking in the United States are identified, and have access to the services they need to recover and to rebuild their lives. This includes a victim services network that is comprehensive, trauma-informed, and responsive to the needs of all victims, regardless of the type of trafficking they endured. More than 15 federal agencies (led by the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security) worked with stakeholders and participated in listening sessions across the country to develop this plan, as well as solicited feedback through a 45-day public comment period.

In FY 2013, SJI awarded 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 case processing demands; and 4) building effective national, state, and local partnerships for addressing the impacts of human trafficking case processing in the state courts.