Human Trafficking Intervention Courts

Overview


Human traffickers exploit vulnerable domestic and foreign nationals both in the United States and abroad by compelling victims to engage in commercial sex.


Individuals with and without legal status have been identified as trafficking victims from almost every region of the world. According to the U.S. Department of State's 2019 "Trafficking in Persons Report". The top three countries of origin are:

  • United States
  • Mexico
  • Philippines

Among the populations in the United States' most vulnerable to human trafficking:

  • children in the child welfare systems
  • juvenile justice systems, including foster care
  • runaway and homeless youth
  • unaccompanied foreign national children without lawful immigrant status
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives, particularly women and girls
  • individuals with drug addictions
  • persons with limited English and proficiency
  • participants in court-ordered substance use diversion program

Advocates report a growing trend of traffickers targeting victims with disabilities and an increase in the use of online social media platforms to recruit and and advertise victims of human trafficking.

Despite New York legislation that criminalizes sex trafficking, and removes the requirement that prove force, fraud, or coercion for victims under 18 years old, the Unified Court System finds that arrests for sex trafficking remain relatively low, perhaps due to difficulties in identifying and investigating this crime.

The Unified Court System also finds that the purchasers of commercial sex are arrested about half as often as those engaged in prostitution. In 2019, there were approximately:

  • 1,150 prostitution-related arrests [This figure includes arrests for Unauthorized Practice of a Licensed Profession (ED 6512), Prostitution (PL 230.00 & 230.03), and Loitering (PL 240.37)]
  • 600 arrests for patronizing a person engaged in prostitution [This figure includes arrests for Patronizing a Prostitute (PL 230.04, 230.05, 230.08, 230.11 & 230.12)]
  • 185 arrests for compelling, permitting, or promoting prostitution [This figure includes arrests for Promoting Prostitution (PL 230.19, 230.20, 230.25 & 230.30), Compelling Prostitution (PL 230.33) and Permitting Prostitution (PL 230.40)]
  • 30 arrests for sex trafficking [This figure includes arrests for Sex Trafficking (PL 230.34)]

The Unified Court System’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs) are committed to ensuring trauma-informed responses to justice-involved victims of sex trafficking. By building upon lessons learned in Drug Treatment Courts, Domestic Violence Courts, and Mental Health Courts, HTICs incorporate the key principles of problem-solving courts (i.e., specially trained judges, judicial monitoring, and linkages to services) to address the unique needs of this vulnerable population. In that regard, the Office of Policy and Planning is working closely with local courts to develop new strategies to identify and improve services for trafficking survivors who enter the criminal and/or family justice systems.

Contact Info

For further information on Problem-Solving Courts or if you would like to schedule a court visit, please contact the Office of Policy and Planning at ProblemSolving@nycourts.gov

HTIC