EVERY TRAFFICKING VICTIM IN THE UNITED STATES SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO JUSTICE.
“I feel like the powerful people are on my side now.”
—Trafficking Survivor, referred by HT Pro Bono
The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center (HT Pro Bono) trains talented pro bono attorneys to represent trafficking victims in the United States. It makes referrals on a case-by-case basis, providing mentoring and extensive technical assistance for complex civil, immigration, and criminal cases. HT Pro Bono attorneys monitor the developing case law, focusing on impact litigation in the federal courts. HT Pro Bono also conducts research and maintains a comprehensive database on federal civil trafficking cases. It works in concert with other groups to promote policy reform that will end the scourge of trafficking.
In the ten years since Congress created a civil remedy, trafficking victims have filed just 149 cases. Pro bono attorneys give victims the chance to hold traffickers accountable, gain restitution, and reclaim their lives.
New report released on human trafficking and mandatory criminal restitution in federal cases.
United States law guarantees trafficking victims mandatory criminal restitution. But a new report co-published by The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center and the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP shows that the justice system is failing to provide legally-required restitution to victims in nearly two-thirds of cases.
“When ‘Mandatory’ Does Not Mean Mandatory: Failure to Obtain Criminal Restitution in Federal Prosecution of Human Trafficking,” provides in-depth analysis of federal criminal trafficking indictments brought between 2009 and 2012.*
The four years of case data revealed significant patterns. A key determinant of whether restitution would be ordered was, simply, whether the prosecutor requested it. Researchers also found major discrepancies between trafficking cases into the sex industry and trafficking into other labor sectors. The average restitution order in sex trafficking cases was just $46,211.66, while the average restitution order in forced labor cases was $213,939.21. And, most surprising, victims of labor trafficking were substantially more likely to obtain restitution than those held in sex trafficking.
The report outlines three model cases in which prosecutors successfully maximized criminal restitution for victims. In each of these cases, excellent, well-trained federal prosecutors vigorously pursued restitution. The victims also had outside pro bono legal counsel who advocated for their clients’ rights under the federal restitution statute, 18 USC §1593.
*The research close-date was February 1, 2014. Cases still open on that date were not included in the research findings.
Victims in need of assistance should contact:
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
NEWS & HIGHLIGHTS
- HT Pro Bono’s work honored with the 2015 Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize awarded by the Santa Clara University School of Law.
- Keynote address by Martina Vandenberg at 2015 Restorative Justice Conference hosted by Marquette Law School, March 19-20.
- Benjamin Skinner and Minky Worden appointed to HT Pro Bono Board of Directors.
- Human Trafficking Report Card:
Justice for Trafficking Victims in the United States?
- New HT Pro Bono Report: “When ‘Mandatory’ Does Not Mean Mandatory: Failure to Obtain Criminal Restitution in Federal Prosecution of Human Trafficking”.
- HT Pro Bono Partners with Innovative Law Firm in Charlotte, NC Offering Pro Bono Services to Trafficking Survivors.
- HT Pro Bono honored by Maryland Women’s Law Center.
- HT Pro Bono Leads Coalition Combating Trafficking by Diplomats in the U.S.: See our op-ed in the The Washington Post, on abuse by diplomats.
- HT Pro Bono receives 501(c)(3) certification as nonprofit organization.
- Creating a Bench of Pro Bono Attorneys: HT Pro Bono has trained more than 1,400 highly skilled attorneys throughout the U.S. using a rights-based approach that empowers trafficking survivors.