Evaluating the Elements of a Convictable Sex Trafficking Case Based on Perceptions of Vice Units Nationwide
In recent years, sex trafficking awareness and intervention have skyrocketed in the United States. The 2016 Polaris Hotline Statistics Sheet reports a drastic increase of reported sex trafficking cases over the span of four years, with only 3,409 cases of human trafficking in 2012 and 8,042 in 2016, 73% of which were specifically sex trafficking cases (Polaris Project, 2016). The incidence of sex trafficking has not increased, but rather, attention to sex trafficking and implementation of legislation has increased awareness and reporting (Farrell et al., 2012). While this rise in public awareness of sex trafficking has positively impacted victim identification, there has not been an increase in convicting sex traffickers (Polaris Project, 2016). According to the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, 3,000 federal investigations that involved human trafficking, the majority of which specifically involved sex trafficking, were opened in 2015. Of these federal investigations, only 10% led to case prosecutions. Analyzing the relationship of law enforcement, specifically vice units, and victims of sex trafficking is just one of the many ways to address this complex issue. This study consisted of a qualitative analysis of the makeup, training, and policing methods of vice units nationwide. It further aimed to determine the vice officer perceptions regarding the elements that make sex trafficking cases convictable.