Human trafficking report: Fourteen ideas for improving Colorado's response
The Denver-based Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking has released fourteen recommendations to strengthen Colorado's response to human trafficking. Among them: form a statewide group of prosecutors focused on trafficking, create a prevention campaign targeted at vulnerable populations, and encourage the development of local coalitions dedicated to the issue.
The recommendations are the result of a three-year project that began with a simple question: What would it take to end human trafficking in Colorado?
Human trafficking is defined by federal law as inducing a person by "force, fraud or coercion" to perform labor or sex acts. LCHT's project, dubbed the Colorado Project, further clarifies the definition by listing several examples.
"In the United States, trafficking can take a variety of forms," says a report released today (and available on LCHT's website), "including pimping, domestic servitude, migrant farm worker abuse in fields, forced begging, forced labor in businesses such as hotels or sweatshops, and exploitation of sheepherders, among many others."
The researchers say they realized early on that in order to figure out how to end human trafficking, they first needed to evaluate what was already being done.
"A lot, when it comes to research or reports around this issue, point out what's not being done," says executive director Amanda Finger. "But we haven't seen a lot of information about promising or best practices, and if that's where this movement needs to go, we need to look at what those practices should be." The goal, she says, was to "celebrate what's happening and see how Colorado stacks up and see how we can improve."
Through surveys, interviews and focus groups with people who work in law enforcement, child abuse, homelessness, immigration and other issues, the researchers were able to assess Colorado's strengths -- and see where the gaps were.
Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking A graphic from the Colorado Project report.
"Because of relative newness of this (anti-human trafficking) movement, a lot of folks ... see things and have hunches," says A.J. Alejano-Steele, the project's research director. "This project moved beyond intuition and assumption to collect data."
For instance, the data showed that while there are several groups seeking to raise awareness about human trafficking, there are fewer that are directly educating the populations most at risk to be trafficked themselves. The researchers also learned that while there are shelters for female trafficking victims, there's a shortage of beds for boys, men and transgender people. And whereas a number of police detectives have come to comprehending trafficking cases and how to investigate them, some attorneys and judges don't understand the nuances of prosecuting a trafficking case or sentencing a trafficker.
The Colorado Project report includes fourteen recommendations, which are broken down into four categories: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships.
Continue to read the recommendations.