Sunday, May 1, 2016

Effective Counter Human Trafficking Strategies: Exploring the Latest Research Webinar

On Friday afternoon I attended a very interesting webinar sponsored by the Polaris Project and Google entitled "Effective Counter Human Trafficking Strategies: Exploring the Latest Research." It featured a number of scholars on trafficking including Amy Farrell, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University and Vanessa Bouche, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas Christian University. I have read their research and met both via email so it was great to hear them speak in person (via webinar). They spoke about their recently published Department of Justice study entitled Identifying Effective Counter-Trafficking Programs and Practices in the U.S.: Legislative, Legal, and Public Opinion Strategies that Work. The research examined the effectiveness of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (the national level legislation on human trafficking adopted in 2000) including the criminal justice based anti-trafficking strategies and the public's response to these campaigns.

Some of the most interesting findings they presented were about the shift in prosecutions from the federal to the state level as legislation on the state level has developed. They also said most of the forced labor cases were adjudicated on the federal level which I think suggests the nature of that crime and demonstrates that states are just not equipped to investigate that aspect of the crime yet. Safe harbor legislation increased prosecutions for traffickers on the state level which is a very interesting finding for Georgia as well look to pass this legislation. They also said that the post-it laws led to arrests and were among the strongest predictors of trafficking identification which is also a good sign as we work to implement that legislation in Georgia. One of the most important points from their study for my research in Eastern Europe was that prosecutions and holding traffickers accountable takes investment and states needed more than just criminalization statutes to effectively combat human trafficking. Although I was most interested in the academic research presented at the webinar, there were two other speakers who also presented the practitioner side of things.

It was also the first time I ever live tweeted an event and it was interesting to see what all of the people were saying about it on twitter. Overall, it was a great webinar and I am glad I have the opportunity and time to watch it. If you are interested in watching the webinar, you can watch the video here.

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