AG Coakley, Interagency Task Force Members File Human Trafficking Report With Legislature
Report Makes Recommendations to Better Combat, Prevent Human Trafficking
BOSTON – Seeking to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent human trafficking and to support survivors in its aftermath, Attorney General Martha Coakley and the members of the Massachusetts Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force today submitted policy recommendations file size 1MB to the Legislature.
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“Human trafficking is a brutal and dehumanizing crime that, because of its nature, often goes unreported,” AG Coakley said. “This comprehensive set of recommendations is a beginning rather than an end in our efforts to fight human trafficking. We can and will do more to assist victims and put traffickers out of business, and this report gives us a clear path forward. I want to thank all of the members of the Task Force and subcommittees for their outstanding contributions in developing these recommendations and for their tireless efforts to combat human trafficking.”
“With the leadership of Attorney General Coakley and with our local, state and federal partners, the Massachusetts State Police is committed to expanding awareness, training and enforcement of human trafficking and the exploitation of the most vulnerable members of our communities across the Commonwealth,” said Colonel Timothy P. Alben, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police.
“This report clearly demonstrates the need for greater information sharing between law enforcement agencies,” said Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis. “Human Trafficking is a heinous crime. Working together we can aggressively go after those who prey on the most vulnerable. I am encouraged by the work of the Task Force and believe the implementation of the recommendations will go a long way to making the city safer.”
As part of the human trafficking law signed in 2011, the Legislature created a 19-member Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force to examine and develop recommendations on all aspects of human trafficking, including policy changes.
The Task Force, which has been meeting publicly since February 2012 to develop recommendations, is chaired by AG Coakley and includes representatives of victim services, human trafficking survivors, academia, law enforcement and state government.
The Task Force formed subcommittees to examine and make recommendations on five distinct areas of concern as required by the statute: victim services; demand reduction; data collection and information sharing; education and training; and public awareness. The subcommittees included members of the Task Force and additional subject matter experts.
Highlights from the report recommendations include:
- Establishing a human trafficking survivor safe house pilot program to provide immediate and long-term housing to victims seeking to leave “the life”;
- Increasing the capacity of existing victim services programs, providing additional funding to support trafficking-specific programs, and increasing the availability of resources to identified trafficking victims;
- Developing a first-offender program option, or “John school,” for all sex-buying arrestees in order to address demand;
- Piloting a data collection program that would allow for the sharing of information among law enforcement and victim services;
- Helping to identify victims at common points of entry including schools, health care providers and law enforcement through the use of a screening tool;
- Making culturally and language appropriate training available to all health care providers, law enforcement, first responders, and education providers; and
- Launching a public awareness campaign modeled on existing successful campaigns from other jurisdictions
In addition to the recommendations developed by the subcommittees and adopted by the Task Force, the report sets forth a set of short, mid- and long-term goals for each area of focus as well as provides substantive next steps. The intent of the Task Force in setting forth detailed findings and incremental goals is to provide a roadmap that will promote timely implementation of its recommendations. Implementation groups recommended by the Task Force will work over the course of the next year to begin putting the Task Force’s recommendations into action. Additionally, the report recommends the formation of a policy group to further investigate issues specific to labor trafficking.
Comprehensive human trafficking legislation, An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People, was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on November 21, 2011. The law went into effect on February 19, 2012. The legislation established the state crimes of human trafficking for sexual servitude and forced labor, organ trafficking, and enticement of a child by means of electronic communication. The legislation also increased penalties for existing sex-related crimes.
Including her work on the Task Force, AG Coakley has made combating human trafficking a priority of her office. AG Coakley appointed an Assistant Attorney General to her Enterprise and Major Crimes Division to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases. To date, the AG’s Office has charged more than ten people in connection with human trafficking since the new human trafficking law went into effect. Most recently in May, two individuals were arrested and arraigned in connection with running an extensive criminal enterprise involving human trafficking. This month, Massachusetts was rated as a top-tier state in the Polaris Project’s annual ratings on state human trafficking laws, after being named the most improved state in the 2012 ratings, catapulting from the worst tier to the best in just one year.
Below are statements of support from Task Force Members:
Lisa Goldblatt Grace, My Life My Choice
“Audrey Morrissey and I are grateful to have been part of this task force under the leadership of AG Coakley. The commonwealth is poised to make a real impact in the lives of our most marginalized. We are looking forward to being part of the work that makes these recommendations a reality.”
Julie Dahlstrom, Managing Attorney at Lutheran Social Services of New England
“The report by the Task Force brings attention to the extraordinary progress made in the past two years and calls us to action to ensure that trafficking survivors have the support and resources to exit out of exploitation. This report is a very comprehensive blueprint, but it is a starting point rather than an endpoint. It highlights the work that we must do in the next few years to ensure that survivors have the protections that they deserve, including the need for housing, funding for victim services, and important victim protections. It is a call to action and a reminder that our work - as individuals, as a community, and as a Commonwealth - is not yet done.”
Stephanie DeCandia, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
“The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center is a proud member of the multidisciplinary task force that produced The Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force Report. Working across disciplines, we were able to envision a collective impact far exceeding what one agency can do on its own. The advised next steps in the report are strategic and realistic responses to combating trafficking as well as addressing survivors’ comprehensive needs.”
Liam Lowney, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance
“MOVA is thrilled and honored to have been a part of the important work that resulted in the recommendations made in this report. Victims and survivors of trafficking across the Commonwealth will benefit from the hard work and dedication by those individuals on the task force. This report is a monumental first step in combating human trafficking and more work will be done. As identification and public awareness increases as does the need for services for those affected by trafficking. The focus now needs to be on developing comprehensive services that speak to the continuum of care that victims and survivors of trafficking require to exit exploitation.”
Olga Roche, Acting Commissioner, Department of Children and Families
“As the agency charged with protecting children from abuse in Massachusetts, the Department of Children and Families was proud to participate in the Interagency Human Trafficking Task Force. The young men and women who find themselves victims of human trafficking need our support. We look forward to strengthening our community partnerships to address this issue and protect our children while providing them with the support and services they need.”
Heather Rowe , Director, Department of Labor Standards
“Forced labor is occurring across many industries nationally, and our Task Force has developed strategies to address this and all aspects of human trafficking in Massachusetts. Our collaborative work will strengthen the dignity within Massachusetts’ workforce, insuring no one is abused, forced to work against his or her will, or robbed of his or her freedom in jobs they did not even seek.”
Susan Goldfarb, Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County
“The Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force Report provides the guidance we need, as a state, to create a safety net - across the Commonwealth - for trafficked children. We look forward to taking the next steps to make this safety net a reality.”
Somerville Chief of Police Tom Pasquarello
“The scope of human trafficking has no boundaries and is evil in many ways. Perhaps the greatest injustice is the victimization of the most vulnerable members of society; our children and our economically disadvantaged. The report looks at these issues through a victim’s perspective, with emphasis on treatment, education and support, but still provides law enforcement with the tools required to investigate and dismantle these global and domestic organizations.”
Josiane Martinez, Office for Immigrants and Refugees
“This comprehensive report is an important blueprint for us to dedicate resources, cross-sector collaboration and creativity throughout Massachusetts to end modern-day slavery. Human trafficking hurts refugee and immigrant communities disproportionately, especially in areas of workplace and domestic labor exploitation, compounded by vulnerabilities stemming from immigration status, financial obligations, language barriers and detachment from familiar social networks. Reaching and identifying victims in these communities and offering relief are critical steps to stop the chain of abuse. Implementing these recommendations will make great strides toward guaranteeing safety, dignity and value for all workers and communities so we can thrive together in the Commonwealth.”