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 2020 "Trafficking in Persons Report". The top three countries of origin are:
• United States
Among the populations in the United States' most vulnerable to human trafficking:
• children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, including foster care
• runaway and homeless youth
• unaccompanied foreign national children without lawful immigration status
• individuals seeking asylum
• American Indians and Alaska Natives, particularly women and girls
• individuals with substance use issues
• migrant laborers, including undocumented workers and participants in visa programs for temporary workers
• foreign national domestic workers in diplomatic households
• persons with limited English proficiency
• persons with disabilities
• LGBTI individuals
• victims of intimate partner violence or domestic violence
Advocates report a growing recognition of trauma bonding, which occurs when a trafficker uses rewards and punishments in cycles of abuse to foster a powerful emotional connection with the victim.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.
Historically, the Unified Court System has found that the purchasers of commercial sex were arrested about half as often as those engaged in prostitution. However, in 2020, perhaps due to the pandemic, not only was there was a substantial decrease in the number of prostitution-related arrests, but the number of arrests for patronizing a person engaged in prostitution was approximately the same as the number of prostitution-related arrests.
• 330 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)]
• 316 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)]
• 100 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)]
• 14 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 for Justice Initiatives - Division of Policy and Planning works 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.
For further information on Problem-Solving Courts or if you would like to schedule a court visit, please contact the Division of Policy and Planning at ProblemSolving@nycourts.gov