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1)The crime of human trafficking can happen anywhere. Therefore, officers must be aware of the signs and evidence that indicate that trafficking may be occurring in their communities.

Human trafficking, at its most basic level, is defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as (a) the recruitment, harboring, transporting, supplying, or obtaining a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude or slavery; or (b) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform sex acts are under 18 years of age (Logan, Walker, & Hunt, 2009) Although most news accounts of human trafficking focus on the sex trade, the violence endured by the victims of human servitude, the powerful effects of psychological coercion play a key role in entrapment and continued enslavement (Mcdonald, 2014).

In comparison to prostitution, human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude or sex trafficking. Trafficking, though variously defined, covers coercion, forced labor, and slavery. Prostitution describes the sale of sex, by no means necessarily without consent or with coercion (Butcher, 2003). One of the barriers to identifying victims of trafficking is the societal view of prostitution, and the view that prostitution is an occupation, and a choice, making it a victimless crime with no visible harm to any one person (Linebach, & Kovacsiss, 2016).

Trafficking laws are among the most difficult laws to enforce. The difficulties vary by type of crime. For sexual exploitation, the victims are often viewed by police, prosecutors, judges, and juries not as legitimate victims but rather as criminals engaged in prostitution and of being illegally in the country. Prosecutors dread these cases because proof depends upon the testimony of a credible, convincing victim/witness, brave enough to testify and patient enough to wait months for a trial. But, sex trafficking victims/witnesses are rarely of that kind and often disappear and abandon the case. Prosecutors blame the failure of the public to report cases and the fact that the police had not identified any cases with clear evidence that victims had in fact been coerced, defrauded, or forced to do labor (Mcdonald, 2014). Mcdonald continues relating local police typically leave labor cases to the federal government because the cases tended to involve unauthorized migrants (2014).

In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, the department’s unified effort to combat human trafficking, released a new web-based training course for law enforcement that concentrates on signs and indicators of both labor trafficking and sex trafficking (Mcdonald, 2014) . The training focuses on how to detect human trafficking, how to begin an investigation and the unique dynamics of interviewing trafficking victims (Mcdonald, 2014).

This distinction between human trafficking and prostitution is critical for the general public, law enforcement, and adjudicators to realize. Communities in general accept prostitution as just another criminal activity plaguing their streets. If communities were aware that labor trafficking was prolific in the United States, and that it involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary, modern-day slavery, there may be a larger focus to report, investigate, and prosecute cases of forced labor. We see on a regular basis, campaigns to reduce drug abuse and gun violence. Rarely are public service announcements directed at human trafficking and the 600,000 to 800,000 individuals trafficked internationally every year (Linebach, & Kovacsiss, 2016).

Butcher, K. (2003). Confusion between prostitution and sex trafficking. The Lancet, 361(9373), 1983-1983.

Linebach, J. & Kovacsiss, L. (2016). Psychology in the justice system. Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Logan, T. K., Walker, R., & Hunt, G. (2009). Understanding Human Trafficking in the United States. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 10(1), 3–30.

Mcdonald, W. F. (2014). Explaining the under-performance of the anti-human-trafficking campaign: Experience from the united states and europe. Crime, Law and Social Change, 61(2), 125-138.

2)Understanding and differentiating between members complicit with human trafficking and those forced into it for sex labor trade is extremely difficult. Many times, individuals being smuggled cooperate completely with smugglers in order to achieve entry into another country illegally (Linebach & Kovacsiss, 2016). It is not uncommon for those who are caught to claim they are taken against their will in an effort to have a suitable defense to protect themselves from being prosecuted. This becomes even more of a problem for local law enforcement, because they need to be able to effectively perform their jobs in the manner which best fits the situation. Another issue local enforcement faces with battling prostitution stems from the issue that the people driving the industry are out of reach of the local municipalities making it impossible for them to combat it effectively on their own. It requires a great deal of coordination with other agencies to stop the problem at it’s root. Otherwise local law enforcement agencies will just arrest the lower level prostitutes.

There should definitely be a difference between prostitution and human trafficking. Anytime crimes are grouped together it can lead to convoluted outcomes which may benefit the true predators in these cases. Additionally, it is important to distinguish between those forced into prostitution/sex trafficking and those who are willing participants in human trafficking. I believe the general public would like to think they care about what is going on, but they probably do not see it clearly on a day-to-day basis. Most people care to the extent that they think it is bad, but they are not directly exposed to the reality of it and may not know the signs to report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities. I believe informing the public on the signs of human/sex trafficking and the types of occupations commonly associated with these illegal activities are the best ways to inform the public.

The justice system can do a better job of communicating/coordinating with lower levels of government in an effort to identify and expose the networks in place which power the sex trafficking machine. These organizations are quite vast and stretch across the continents in an impressive manner. Making the connections and links will ultimately help reduce the number of overall victims of the trade. As for the current and future victims, ensuring mandated treatment and help for the victims during and after the legal process should be provided for the victims. Linebach and Kovacsiss state, “researchers have begun to investigate the adverse psychological effects of prostitution, as more and more evidence surfaces that prostitutes are presenting symptoms of severe psychological disorders, including PTSD and dissociative disorders” (p. 29). These are concerning leaving it vital to provide the help needed to those suffering as a result of the trade.

Reference

Linebach, J., & Kovacsiss, L. (2016). Psychology in the Justice System. Rome, GA: Floyd County Superior Court.

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