This webinar highlights the Center for Court Innovation’s (CCI) Child Witness Materials Development Project, an initiative funded by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and a partner project of AEquitas. In 2021, OVC published a package of support materials for child victims and witnesses of crime that CCI had created, and in January 2022, OVC published an additional package of interactive support materials specifically for youth who have experienced human trafficking. A multidisciplinary group of national trafficking experts with professional and and lived experience contributed to the design and development of these materials.
In this webinar, participants learn more about how young trafficking survivors experience the justice system, and how they can address youth’s needs and provide developmentally-appropriate information and emotional support. Participants learn how to effectively use the Child Witness materials in their roles so youth feel more informed and empowered as they navigate their own healing process in addition to navigating the system.
While awareness of human trafficking is on the rise, there are still blind spots that prevent law enforcement from recognizing all forms of exploitation. Men, boys, and victims of labor trafficking through forced criminality are often overlooked because they do not fit the typical depiction of a human trafficking victim. However, in the case of Victor Rax, Utah’s Attorney General’s Office was able to identify dozens of boys and young men from immigrant communities who were forced to sell drugs after being sexually, spiritually, and physically abused.
The presenters use the Rax case as a backdrop to discuss the realities of labor trafficking through forced criminality, including how traffickers use grooming tactics common in both child sexual abuse cases and in gang culture to recruit and coerce victims to commit crimes. Strategies to better identify and respond to cases of forced criminality are discussed through a detailed examination of the Rax investigation which led to his eventual arrest for sexual abuse and labor trafficking.
At the end of this presentation, participants will be better able to:
-Recognize and describe methods traffickers use to identify, recruit, and coerce victims of labor trafficking via forced criminality
-Conduct trauma-informed investigations and prosecutions in cases where male victims have been abused and exploited to effectively hold offenders accountable
-Collaborate to provide support to and connect male victims of forced criminality/human trafficking with meaningful services
Prosecutors are leaders, serving their communities by protecting victims and holding offenders accountable. Prosecutors wield wide powers of discretion and therefore are tasked with being gatekeepers to, and from, the criminal justice system. When communities develop responses to human trafficking cases, prosecutors are uniquely positioned to guide policies and practices, including how victims and survivors are treated when they interact with the criminal justice system. Beyond the traditional role in the courtroom, prosecutors can also shape community responses by convening members of the community, educating the public, and prioritizing operations aimed at identifying and serving the most vulnerable individuals in our communities.
This presentation focuses on how prosecutors can collaborate with others to better serve their communities by holding traffickers accountable and protecting victims and survivors in meaningful ways. The presenters provide strategies to leverage the prosecutor’s leadership role to positively influence how investigations are initiated, conducted, and charged. Additionally, the prosecutor’s overlapping ethical obligations are discussed, focused on the duty to achieve justice over convictions and to proactively remedy wrongful convictions.
– Leverage leadership role to promote trauma-informed, victim-centered policies and practices
– Collaborate with traditional and non-traditional partners to hold offenders accountable
– Partner with victim service professionals to ensure that survivors of sex and labor trafficking have meaningful access to appropriate services
Human traffickers control their victims through force, fraud, and coercion. In the case of intimate partner sex trafficking, these methods of control are uniquely manipulative and difficult to identify. Understanding the historical and circumstantial factors that lead to vulnerabilities exploited by traffickers in these relationships allows law enforcement and prosecutors to more successfully address and minimize harm to victims while effectively investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases.
This presentation describes how, in addition to violence and threats, traffickers exploit feelings of love and loyalty to maintain power over their victims and perpetrate sex trafficking and related crimes. The presenters discuss the importance of identifying victims of intimate partner human trafficking to ensure victim safety and provide access to services and support, while at the same time articulating offender conduct to ensure they are held accountable for their actions.
Trauma is a direct result of the abuse and exploitation that offenders inflict on victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. This acute trauma, often compounded with historical trauma, impacts survivor’s ability to fully participate in the criminal justice process. As a result, a collaborative, trauma-informed response that takes historical context into consideration is essential to ensuring survivor access to justice while improving community safety.
This presentation describes various forms of trauma that victims may experience throughout their lives and as a result of an offender’s victimization. Presenters define cultural humility as a key element of a successful trauma-informed response that improves our individual, collective, and systematic responses to survivors. Additionally, the presenters provide strategies to identify, document, and introduce evidence of trauma to improve case outcomes and community safety by holding offenders accountable.
At the conclusion of this training, participants will be better able to:
• Identify signs and symptoms of trauma, and implement trauma-informed practices
• Enhance victim safety, privacy, autonomy, and participation through collaboration with allied professionals
• Practice cultural humility while preparing cases to proceed, regardless of a victim’s ability to participate in the process
One specific responsibility of law enforcement and prosecutors working on human trafficking cases is to write various reports, affidavits, and briefs that effectively document incidents of sex and labor trafficking. It is crucial for these documents to accurately reflect complex trafficking dynamics and case-specific facts to establish probable cause and effectively litigate issues at trial. When law enforcement and prosecutors collaborate with others, including those with lived experience, they are better equipped to successfully articulate how traffickers use a variety of overt and subtle tactics to exploit victims—thus establishing the element(s) of force, fraud, and/or coercion necessary for cases involving adult victims.
This presentation focuses on the core competencies needed by law enforcement and prosecutors to establish the elements of human trafficking. Additionally, facilitators discuss the necessity of protecting victim privacy and ensuring that public records and press releases accurately describe trafficking dynamics. In combination with other external messaging, this documentation can help educate the public—and potential jurors—about the realities of trafficking.
At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be better able to:
• Effectively document traffickers’ actions to establish the elements of force, fraud, or coercion;
• Articulate the realities of human trafficking when communicating with the media and the public; and
• Ethically protect victim and witness safety in the public record.
This Guide discusses the essential capabilities necessary for a prosecutor’s office to effectively prevent and respond to crimes of violence. It suggests practices that are customizable and scalable, from foundational to enhanced, depending on an office’s available resources and experiences, as well as jurisdiction-specific needs and challenges . This Guide is intended to enable the executives responsible for operating a prosecutor’s office to identify policies and practices that can be readily implemented, as well as those that represent actionable goals to work toward. Every prosecutor’s office — whether a small tribal or rural office, a mid-sized suburban office, or a large office serving a major metropolitan area — can build the capacity to improve its response to violent crime by systematically incorporating promising practices that will harness all available resources to achieve the goal of a safer community.Prosecutors Guide for Reducing Violence and Building Safer Communities
As human trafficking awareness has risen across the United States and the globe, there are still blind spots that prevent law enforcement from recognizing the exploitation of the most vulnerable people in the their communities. To bridge this disconnect, law enforcement must learn to see abusive and exploitative circumstances through a human trafficking lens, even if those circumstances do not match how movies, television shows, or even well-meaning awareness campaigns portray human trafficking within the United States. The reality of human trafficking is that it most commonly involves an offender who positions themselves as trustworthy and then identifies, recruits, and exploits vulnerable individuals to turn a profit. These same tactics used to identify, recruit,, and coerce victims are also designed to allow the trafficker to escape accountability. However, as Utah’s case against the prolific trafficker Victor Rax illustrates, when law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service professionals collaborate, human trafficking in all its forms can be identified, offenders can be arrested and charged, and victims can be supported to start rebuilding their lives.Forced Criminality Through the Lens of the Victor Rax Case
The history of racial discrimination against Black Americans in the United States created structural barriers and inequalities that Black women continue to face as victims of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and human trafficking.. The article offers examples of how racial bias has shaped the criminal justice response to these crimes and provides prosecutors with tangible tools for eradicating biases against Black victims. Confronting-Racial-Bias-Against-Black-and-African-American-Victims
This is a summary of a comprehensive resource entitled Seeking Justice and Solutions: A Prosecutor’s Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations. This Quick Guide provides an overview of areas for consideration, including investigative steps and prosecutorial decision-making. The full Guide provides further discussion of these topics, various examples of how prosecutors’ offices of all sizes have addressed these complex issues, and a self-survey to evaluate an office’s capacity to respond to overdoses.
A Prosecutor’s Quick Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations