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Washington, U.S.A. — Two recent studies sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice explore the prevention and successful prosecution of human trafficking cases focused on prostitution. The first, conducted by Abt Associates, focused on “demand reduction” strategies, discouraging potential “customers” from hiring prostitutes. A separate study conducted by researchers at Northeastern University, focuses on the identification, investigation and prosecution of state and local trafficking cases, and explores reasons authorities have not found more victims and prosecuted more cases.
In “A National Overview of Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Efforts,” Abt researchers found that American localities had experimented with a broad range of demand reduction strategies focused on sex buyers, colloquially known as “johns.” A small body of evidence shows that some strategies, such as camera surveillance and “john school” education program, can be effective.
In “Identifying Challenges to Improve the Investigation and Prosecution of State and Local Trafficking Cases,” researchers examined trafficking cases in 12 U.S. counties and interviewed officials in three counties reporting no trafficking cases. Although the study’s findings cannot be generalized, researchers found a common thread in all three counties: most trafficking cases begin with a tip from someone knowledgeable about the situation, but rarely from trafficked people themselves. Researchers also found that 69 percent of the reviewed cases were prosecuted, most were not charged as trafficking cases per se, but were prosecuted under older laws, such as those against promoting prostitution.
The National Institute of Justice — the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice — is dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science. NIJ provides objective and independent knowledge and tools to reduce crime and promote justice, particularly at the state and local levels.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).