On SAGE Insight: The Impact of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 on Trends in Federal Sex Trafficking Cases

From Criminal Justice Policy Review

Trafficking of individuals for forced labor and illegal sexual activity is a serious crime that has received increasing attention in recent years from the media, victim advocacy groups, policymakers, and law-enforcement officials. Attention has been focused on sex trafficking in particular. According to the most recently available government report on the subject, allegations of sex trafficking constitute a large majority of human trafficking incidents.

This study addresses the need for empirical research on human trafficking by compiling unique data relating to criminal charges filed in federal judicial districts and using these data to examine trends in sex trafficking-related cases, as well as the impact on those trends of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). The study offers some empirical support for the popular perception that sex trafficking has been a growing problem—a perception researchers have cautioned against unconditionally accepting. Equally important, our results also indicate that because the rate of increase in sex trafficking-related cases declined in the post-TVPA era, the TVPA may have fulfilled at least one of its purposes: decelerating sex trafficking-related victimization by bending the arc of increase in new cases.

Abstract

In this study, we addressed the need for empirical research on human trafficking by compiling unique data relating to criminal charges filed in federal judicial districts and using these data to examine trends in sex trafficking-related cases, as well as the impact on those trends of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). Results from our regression models indicate that the proportion of all charges filed by federal prosecutors that involved sex trafficking and related cases increased significantly between 1994 and 2007. The rate of increase, however, slowed in the time period following the passage of the TVPA, suggesting that the TVPA may have helped to mitigate increases in new cases. In addition, our results show statistically significant inverse relationships between immigration and sex trafficking-related charges filed, providing new evidence to support the possibility that some sex trafficking-related cases may be being prosecuted as immigration cases instead.

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Article details
The Impact of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 on Trends in Federal Sex Trafficking Cases
Shana M. Judge, Blake Boursaw
First Published June 24, 2016
Criminal Justice Policy Review
DOI: 10.1177/0887403416655430

     
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