Hand outreaching banner image

Courts address human trafficking issues

January 12, 2022

by Bill Raftery

By presidential proclamation since 2010, every January has been National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. While at the federal level there is a newly revised National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, at the state level court systems also have moved to address the issues related to human trafficking.

In Washington, Judge Barbara Mack and Dr. Dana Raigrodski wrote about the issues related to commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), including sex trafficking. Published in the Washington Courts Gender and Justice Commission's 2021 annual report, their work noted that "[s]ince the early 2000s, Washington has made significant progress on issues of human trafficking and CSE, due in large part to a concerted effort to provide cross-disciplinary training to identify and respond earlier to CSE children and youth."

In 2020, Tennessee judges had an opportunity to learn more about Tennessee’s human trafficking problem during an online session organized by the Administrative Office of the Courts, in partnership with End Slavery Tennessee, Epic Girl , and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. During The Realities of Human Trafficking: A Deep Dive into Tennessee’s Vulnerable Population and the Multidisciplinary Response, judges heard from several experts who have dedicated their lives to helping at-risk children and adults avoid falling into the snare of trafficking.

The Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania  Courts has developed a resource guide for judges and others that examines human trafficking, along with a document that discusses fact vs. fiction concerning human trafficking.

The Supreme Court of Ohio's Domestic Violence Program has developed a bench card to help judges as well as guidelines and materials for courts looking to develop specialized dockets to address cases involving human trafficking.

In 2017, the Judicial Council of California created a tool kit for judicial officers to help in cases involving human trafficking. The toolkit includes a series of bench cards to assist in areas such as how to identify and handle trafficking victims and what services are available to victims. Among the practices identified were the establishment of trauma-informed services for the courtroom, enhanced interagency collaboration, and the incorporation of procedural justice principles.

What steps are your courts taking to address human trafficking? Follow NCSC on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Vimeo and share your experiences.

For more information, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.