This web-based panel explores the ways in which bias against victims from Latine communities affects the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking. Panelists address the following topics:
-Effects of inequalities and challenges that Latine communites uniquely face as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking;
-Barriers to reporting crimes, such as bias and stereotypes held by law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and jurors that can translate into disparate outcomes for victims through unfair credibility determinations;
-Impact of bias on endangering accurate assessments of the probability of conviction in cases, and collateral consequences on a victim’s ability to seek restoration;
-Necessary commitments offices must make to eradicate implicit bias among its staff and enhance recruitment, mentorship, and support opportunities for individuals who are Latine; and
-Strategies for prosecutors’ offices to enhance justice for victims by engaging in cultural humility, promoting criminal record relief, improving training, and ensuring accountability reinforced by data.
This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-22-GK-03987-MUMU awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
Despite the recent legalization of cannabis cultivation, possession, and use in many states across the country, the illicit market for the drug is still booming. The illicit cannabis industry is causing profound harm to the communities in which it operates—harm that goes far beyond simply producing off-the-books marijuana. Illicit market growers often seek to sidestep agricultural and worker regulations, causing widespread environmental harms, including blackouts, water theft, damage to flora and fauna, poisoned waterbeds, and wildfires. The human cost of illicit cannabis growth is even greater. Across the country, investigators have discovered laborers who have been forced to work in inhumane conditions—often without pay—and in close proximity to dangerous chemicals at illegal cannabis cultivation sites. Workers are often threatened with physical violence or deportation if they report to authorities.
Pursuing these crimes often requires a specialized skill set among prosecutors and investigators. This Strategies Newsletter demonstrates how investigators and prosecutors, working in conjunction with local and federal stakeholders, can ensure that labor traffickers in the illicit marijuana industry are held accountable for the full range of their conduct.Agriculture’s Growing Problem
Human trafficking within the illicit massage industry (IMI) is the organized and profitable exploitation of vulnerable individuals. Interrupting IMI criminal networks requires law enforcement to take an equally organized approach, including investigating and prosecuting financial and organized crimes. This presentation provides an overview of IMI organizational models as well as strategies to investigate illicit businesses using a financial and organized crime approach. Presenters share case examples of investigations, which highlight both lessons learned and keys to success.
Zoom Recording Password: ?Ug1HGNy
Traffickers target individuals whom they believe they can exploit with impunity – individuals who are accessible, vulnerable, and less likely to report their exploitation to law enforcement. As a result, individuals who have a criminal record, are under court supervision, or are otherwise subject to the authority of the criminal justice system are at higher risk for exploitation. Individuals who also struggle with addiction and substance use disorders are especially vulnerable to coercion. The Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report has identified “participants in court-ordered substance use diversion programs” as individuals especially vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking, and recent news reports have validated this assertion. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2022 National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking includes action items aimed at countering common trafficker tactics of manipulating and exploiting individuals with substance use disorders.
This presentation identifies trafficking schemes that involve recruitment from local jails and prisons, as well as from court-sanctioned treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration. The presenters focus on strategies to address victim safety concerns and investigate and prosecute trafficking that intersects with the criminal justice system. Throughout the discussion, the presenters underscore the importance of trauma-informed practices and a multidisciplinary response that includes meaningful access to survivor-led programing and low-barrier services, including appropriate healthcare.
-Identify how traffickers identify, recruit, and coerce victims from jails, prisons, and court-ordered programs.
-Investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases in which victims have intersected with the criminal justice system.
-Collaborate with allied professionals to overcome barriers and provide meaningful access to justice for systems-involved victims.
This presentation was produced by AEquitas under 15POVC-21-GK-03263-HT, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence.
In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor John Wilkinson discuss how motions practice can enhance individual sexual violence prosecutions while also advancing important legal issues. They discuss how to argue for the admission of “other bad acts” evidence and expert testimony, strategies for opposing defense’s improper discovery requests and motions to pierce the rape shield, and methods for educating judges on novel issues.
At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Analyze cases to determine issues suitable for pretrial motion practice
– Brief judges on novel legal and factual issues
– Litigate discovery and evidentiary motions to promote victim safety and privacy
Additional resources related to this episode:
– Safeguarding Victim Privacy in a Digital World: Ethical Considerations for Prosecutors
– The Prosecutors’ Resource on Forfeiture by Wrongdoing
– It’s About Context, Not Character: Admitting Evidence Under R. 404(b)
This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.
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
This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting intimate partner violence cases (IPV). In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting IPV.
In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Patti Powers discuss how motions practice can protect victims and advance prosecutions. They explore methods for analyzing cases to determine issues suitable for pretrial motion practice; ways to educate judges on novel legal and factual issues; and strategies for litigating motions to promote victim safety and privacy.
At the conclusion of this presentation, viewers will be better able to:
- File pretrial motions consistent with litigation strategy;
- Educate the judge; and
- Focus on protecting victims and holding the offender accountable.
Additional resources related to this episode:
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.
Gangs are notorious for perpetrating firearm- and drug-related offenses, but many gangs and their members also regularly engage in violence against women, including rape, physical violence, and human trafficking. Gang members use physical and sexual violence to control their victims and the communities within which they operate. Additionally, some gangs engage in trafficking to exploit gang members and non-members to increase gang profits. The pervasive nature of gang-related violence, combined with gang members’ habitual intimidation of victims and witnesses, present unique challenges to the effective investigation and prosecution of these cases.
This presentation discusses tangible strategies for improving the identification, investigation, and prosecution of gang-related violence against women. The presenter explores collaborative methods for supporting victims, enhancing community safety, holding gang offenders accountable, and preventing and effectively responding to witness intimidation.
This portion provides an overview of how trauma impacts victims of IMBs and discusses practical trauma-informed interviewing techniques that help us build rapport with victims, investigate crimes, and develop stronger victim narratives. The presenters discuss making appropriate charging decisions, litigating pretrial motions to protect victim privacy, establishing the elements of the charges with or without victim participation, and educating the jury through voir dire, expert testimony, and effective witness examinations.