The Problem With Human Trafficking Courts

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Photo by walknboston Via Flickr

Photo by walknboston Via Flickr

Although designed as a criminal law reform project to eliminate human trafficking and aid victims of exploitation, Human Trafficking Intervention Courts often end up prosecuting the individuals they intend to protect, according to a paper forthcoming in the Florida Law Review.

“Why have so many commentators heralded them as the model approach to prostitution/trafficking when they involve the arrest, prosecution, and even incarceration of prostitution defendants, who are presumed to be victims?” ask authors Aya Gruber, Amy J. Cohen and Kate Mogulescu in a paper entitled “Penal Welfare and the New Human Trafficking Intervention Courts.” (The paper is a draft). “A key piece of this puzzle is a phenomenon we call ‘penal welfare,’ that is, a growing practice of using criminal courts to provision social services and benefits.”

The authors encourage criminal justice practitioners concerned with “punitivity in the U.S.” to take a closer look at these courts.

Read the study here.

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