SJI addresses the impact of federal and state human trafficking laws on the state courts, and the challenges faced by state courts in dealing with cases involving trafficking victims and their families. These efforts are intended to empower state courts to identify victims, link them with vital services, and hold traffickers accountable.
Human Trafficking and the State Courts
The Human Trafficking and the State Courts Collaborative was established in 2013 by the Center for Public Policy Studies, the National Judicial College and the Center for Court Innovation. The 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.
Louisiana RISE Child Sex and Labor Trafficking Initiative
The Orleans Parish Juvenile Court (OPJC) is improving their capacity to identify and respond to child victims of human trafficking, with a special focus on improving response to male and transgender youth and child victims of labor trafficking. Previously, a Respect, Invest In, Support Empower (RISE) Coordinator was hired to screen youth at intake for trauma and trafficking, and to coordinate services to youth identified as at-risk. While the OPJC has begun to better identify female victims of child sex trafficking, there remains limited data on the prevalence and experiences of male and transgender victims, as well as labor-trafficked youth in New Orleans. The project focuses on gender-responsive programming to better identify and respond to male and transgender victims, implementing best practices for identification and assessment, and developing a juvenile human trafficking court that will be able to respond to both child sex and labor trafficking cases.
Human Trafficking Victims: Developing Training and Tools for Courts
The National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP) at the American University/Washington College of Law is developing materials on human trafficking, providing technical assistance, and offering pilot trainings for state court judges and judicial employees on human trafficking and the T Visa. The project provides judges and court staff with the tools and training they need so that when they encounter an immigrant involved in a court proceeding who may be a victim of human trafficking, the judge knows how to handle these cases. NIWAP is also creating a National Judicial Network, which will serve as a forum that will engage judges in learning from each other and from experts about best practices and legal issues that arise in cases of human trafficking victims and immigrant victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking and sexual assault.