During its June 16, 2014 meeting, the Board of Directors awarded a FY 2014 Strategic Initiatives Grant to the Human Trafficking and the State Courts Collaborative. SJI established human trafficking as a Priority Investment Area in FY 2013. This led to the creation of the Collaborative to address this critical issue. The Collaborative currently consists of the following organizations: Center for Public Policy Studies (CPPS); Center for Court Innovation (CCI); The National Judicial College (NJC); National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ); Legal Momentum; and as of May 2014, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ). The Collaborative is addressing 4 strategic priorities:
- increase understanding and awareness about the challenges faced by state courts in dealing with cases involving trafficking victims and their families;
- develop and test state and local approaches for assessing and addressing the impact of human trafficking victims and defendants in the state courts;
- enhance state and local court capacity to improve court services impacted by human trafficking-related case processing demands; and,
- build effective national, state, and local partnerships for addressing the impacts of human trafficking case processing in the state courts.
Over the past year, the Collaborative has:
- provided extensive, targeted, technical assistance to state court systems, local trial courts, and court support organizations, including courts located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, and Ohio;
- developed educational curricula and conducted numerous educational sessions for state courts and court support organizations;
- established a comprehensive website (www.htcourts.org);
- prepared and distributed resources, including information cards, articles, guides, and a bi-weekly online human trafficking news summary; and,
- established working relationships with key federal, state, and local agencies to address this critical issue.
With additional SIG funding in FY 2014, the Collaborative will expand technical assistance to other state and local courts, increase education and training, and continue strengthening partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels. Demand for technical assistance has exceeded the resources available to the Collaborative; therefore, it is anticipated that additional funding will enable the Collaborative to begin work in new jurisdictions. In FY 2014, there will be an enhanced focus on the role of state courts in addressing labor trafficking as well as sex trafficking. This includes clarifying the types and dynamics of labor trafficking and how labor-trafficking involved cases might end up in the state courts. In addition, there will also be a focus on helping state courts provide services to trafficking victims, to include trauma-informed approaches towards victims and the special needs of juvenile victims of trafficking.