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Human Trafficking and the State Courts: Update on Activities

SJI established human trafficking as a Priority Investment Area in FY 2013. This led to the creation of the Human Trafficking and the State Courts Collaborative, consisting of the Center for Public Policy Studies (CPPS); Center for Court Innovation (CCI); National Judicial College (NJC); National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), Legal Momentum; and the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges (NCJFCJ). The HT Collaborative has been engaged in numerous activities to enhance state court capacity to address the challenge of cases involving human trafficking. State court and/or trial court technical assistance efforts have either been completed or are ongoing in Arizona, California, Georgia, Guam, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Texas, Delaware, Oregon, and North Dakota. Collectively, these efforts, which are tailored to the needs of each court, have involved a great range of services including assessment, planning, program development and implementation, training, and work process improvement.

Educational sessions on a range of topics – such as the forms and dynamics of human trafficking, labor trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation of children, trauma-informed services, and specialty courts and dockets – have been provided by the HT Collaborative for state court systems, trial courts, and justice partners located in Mississippi, Hawaii, Florida, New York, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Delaware, California, and Arizona. Moreover, additional sessions have been conducted for court associations, including the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), the National Association for Court Management (NACM), and NAWJ.

The resource development and publication work of the HT Collaborative has focused on publishing, in cooperation with NACM, hard-copy and electronic versions of an eleven chapter Guide to Addressing Human Trafficking in the State Courts. In addition, the HT Collaborative has completed a series of nine information cards that provide four page summaries of topics examined in greater depth in the HT Guide.

Recently, in an effort led by HT Collaborative member NAWJ, the group completed a Trafficking in Persons – Modern Day Slavery program manual that will be released in April 2015. Finally, the HT Collaborative also publishes a Human Trafficking in the News summary every two weeks.

Over the next year, the HT Collaborative will continue to provide technical assistance, resource development, training, and networking services to state and local courts. In addition, the HT Collaborative will:

  • support the National Summit on Human Trafficking and the State Courts hosted by the New York Unified Court System in October 2015;
  • address the challenges of increasing gang involvement in labor and sex trafficking;
  • continue assessing the intersection between labor and sex trafficking;
  • determine how labor-trafficking involved cases might end up in the state courts;
  • implement trauma-informed approaches to addressing human trafficking; and
  • develop state court approaches for working with non-U.S. citizen trafficking victims, such as unaccompanied immigrant minors, as well as U.S. citizen victims.