A previous post on this blog introduced you to the topic of human trafficking and its prevalence, both internationally and domestically. Most policy-makers like to know its impact on their own state or local community.
As a result, the Rand Corporation was contracted to conduct a study on human trafficking, specifically addressing its impact in Ohio. They recently concluded their study and have published their findings in a report, aptly titled “Human Trafficking in Ohio; markets, responses, and considerations”.
Their research came from primary source documents (newspaper articles specifically related to human trafficking) and interviews with law enforcement and social service providers.
The goals of this research were three-fold:
- To describe the minimum extent to which human trafficking occurs in Ohio using concrete cases for which there is evidence supporting a trafficking offense
- To describe the awareness and response of the criminal justice community, focusing on such issues as how agencies become aware of human trafficking cases and what factors, facilitate or impede detection, investigation, and prosecution of human trafficking, and
- Explore how the social service community has responded to the human trafficking community, seeking to describe the needs that are critical to the trafficking victim.
Research focused on two urban regions, Toledo and Columbus. Toledo research focused primarily on several underage prostitution cases. Columbus research addressed several brothels in the NE part of the city and also labor trafficking cases.
Juvenile victims of human sex trafficking in the case studies were exclusively female, ranging in age from 10 -17.
Recruitment of victims suggests that these victims are often runaways or are on the street due to family or substance abuse problems.
These trafficking victims made $300 – $1,000 per night (focusing on a Harrisburg, PA prostitution ring that originated in Toledo).
In Toledo, the criminal justice community has made significant changes to promote awareness, identification, and investigation of human trafficking cases. In Columbus, however, there is very little awareness of this issue.
Key Policy Considerations:
- Need for greater awareness among the general public, potential first responders, parents, prosecutors, and other justice system personnel. This would be provided in two parts: general awareness information to all parties, and stakeholder-specific training (such as law enforcement, hospital workers, etc.).
- Improved services for human trafficking victims. These could include safe havens, secure placement, short and long-term housing assistance, treatment and outreach, legal aid services, etc.
- The need to address the “demand” side of trafficking. This may include john schools, increased penalties for johns and others who benefit from the trafficking of the victim, etc. Also, better mechanisms to prosecute the owners of various establishments if they are found to house illegal businesses.
- Need for more personnel and resources (including financial) to address this issue. Human trafficking investigations consume significant amounts of time and are low-yield in terms of prosecution.
- Refinement of departmental policies. There are at least three changes that should be made:
- a screening process and standard protocol for law enforcement personnel to follow when interacting with human trafficking victims (what questions to ask, what behaviors to watch for, etc.).
- addressing overlapping jurisdictional issues to assist victims – such as a shelter only serving a certain county, etc.
- helping child welfare and juvenile welfare agencies to see an underage prostitute as a victim, not a criminal. Make this person have a higher priority in the system.
For more information, or to obtain a copy of this report, please visit: www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG689/