October 17, 2018, Orlando, FL
The detailed report utilized court documents from across the country to provide a good look at human trafficking in the justice system. While many survivors are identified and receive services, very few are willing to testify in court due to fear of retaliation. Without testimony from survivors, it is not uncommon for human trafficking charges to be dropped.
In 2017, Florida had 59 active federal court cases for human trafficking. This number may not seem like a lot but each case usually hinges on survivors’ testimonies, something that is quite rare due to the extreme trauma and manipulation usually involved in human trafficking. According to court documents, 87 defendants were listed in these cases. Each defendant should be applauded for their courage to take the stand, look their trafficker in the eye, and recount the horror they endured.
When survivors are not willing or able to testify and there is not enough evidence to prove human trafficking charges, prosecutors frequently identify other criminal behaviors to charge such as deriving money from prostitution, money laundering, or racketeering. As a result, more traffickers receive justice than the numbers may show.
While it is saddening that the beautiful state of Florida has so many cases of human trafficking, it is encouraging to know that our law enforcement officers are actively investigating the crime and our legal system is actively prosecuting traffickers. As first-responders in cases of human trafficking, we are extremely grateful for the risk law enforcement officers take to recover victims and everyone who is involved in seeing justice done on their behalf.
If you would like to take a deeper dive into the national statistics and findings from this nationwide report, we would highly recommend it. It is concise but thorough and is a wonderful tool to educate oneself regarding the face of human trafficking in the United States.
View the report HERE
We commend the Human Trafficking Institute for their hard work putting together this first-of-its-kind report!
by Blair Pippin
Creative & Prevention Director • Florida Abolitionist