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‘Forced Criminality’ in Human Trafficking

What is ‘Forced Criminality’?

One of the most misunderstood aspects of human trafficking is “forced criminality.” Also known as criminal exploitation, forced criminality happens when people are coerced into illegal activities like using or transporting illegal drugs, committing identity theft and violent crimes, or engaging in illegal sex work.

In a disturbing miscarriage of justice, survivors of forced criminality are often wrongly identified as criminals and face arrest and imprisonment for the crimes they were forced to carry out. For more info, check out our interactive dashboard.

Interactive Dashboard on Forced Criminality

Last year, the Urban Institute and the Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative selected Cast as one of 25 organizations across the country to participate in the Catalyst Grant Program to use data and technology to advance racial equity and reform in the criminal legal system in three front-end focus areas: prevention, policing, and prosecution.

With the support of survivor leaders, legal professionals, and researchers, we examined how Cast collects information from our clients about their experiences of forced criminality. Our findings are in our interactive infographic dashboard, where you can view Cast’s client data on forced criminality, broken down by sex and labor trafficking, age, gender, national origin, and more.

If you want to learn more about documenting forced criminality, read our Guide for Anti-Trafficking Practitioners.

Cast Conversations: A Deeper Dive on Human Trafficking Issues

Cast’s Research and Evaluation Manager, Dr. Ethan Levine, chatted with some of our project team members about their experiences with forced criminality. These Cast Conversations are also available on our YouTube Channel.

Nagwa Ibrahim is Cast’s Director of Legal Services.

Jenna Bruce is Cast’s 2023-24 Legal Fellow, President of Rotarians Fighting Human Trafficking, and a survivor of human trafficking.

Ron Kalemba is the Co-Facilitator of the Learning and Training Group for the National Survivor Network and a paid consultant on survivor-led projects.

It’s Not Just Celebrities: Cast CEO Kay Buck on Human Trafficking in Light of Diddy Accusations

In light of the allegations against Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Cast CEO Kay Buck discusses the pervasiveness of human trafficking with Giselle Fernandez on Spectrum News 1.

It’s Not Just Celebrities: Kay Buck on Human Trafficking in Light of Diddy Accusations

Legislation authored by Assemblymember Eloise Reyes Requiring California to Support Crime Victim Services Passes Public Safety Committee

AB 1956, authored by Assemblymember Eloise Reyes, passed unanimously in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. The bill requires California to support funding for essential crime victim services when there are reductions in funding of more than 10%. The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) deposits funding into the Crime Victims Fund, which provides federal funding for victim services providers. VOCA is at the center of California’s response to supporting victims of crime, and these cuts will impact programs serving survivors of child abuse, elder abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault, among others. The fund will have a shortfall of over $120 million this year, affecting service providers across the state. This reduction could lead to fewer available services and some providers closing their doors entirely.

For more information on the Crime Victim Services Stabilization Act and its supporters, check out the Reyes’ Legislation Requiring California to Support Crime Victim Services Press Release with a Quote from Cast CEO Kay Buck and the Support Letter for AB1956.

The Human Trafficking Legal Center Launches Harriet Tubman Fellowship for Labor Trafficking Survivors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Human Trafficking Legal Center is thrilled to launch the Harriet Tubman Fellowship. The Fellowship is inspired by Harriet Tubman, the courageous American abolitionist who helped more than 300 people escape from slavery.

Inspired by Tubman’s legacy of freedom, the Harriet Tubman Fellowship will provide support for trafficking survivors as they pursue individualized career training. The goal is to support these survivors as they seek long-term economic opportunities and leadership positions in the public and private sectors.

Read more: Harriet Tubman Fellowship Press Release

House overwhelmingly passes Fredrick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act

In a landslide vote of 414-11, the House of Representatives passed comprehensive legislation authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act for five years and strengthen and expand successful anti-trafficking programs to bolster the fight against modern-day slavery.

“This critical legislation reauthorizes funding for FY2024 through 2028—a total of five years—to continue current year enacted appropriation and authorization levels to enhance programs, strengthen laws, and add accountability,” said Smith, who authored the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and four subsequent anti-trafficking laws.

Named in honor of the renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Smith’s bill—the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act (HR 5856)—now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to garner broad consensus.

You can view the press release and video by clicking on the link provided here.

Attorney General Bonta Urges Congress to Offer Funding for Crime Victims

Attorney General Bonta has joined a coalition of attorneys general representing 32 states and territories urging Congress to provide critical support and services to victims and survivors of crime by taking steps to increase the Crime Victims Fund (Fund) with short-term, bridge funding. The balance of the Fund, which was established under the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA), has decreased significantly in recent years. It is projected that compared to 2023 funding, the 2024 funding for victim services grants will be 41% or $700 million lower nationwide year over year.

“We must take immediate action to replenish the Crime Victims Fund to prevent the closure of numerous victim service programs across the nation,” said Attorney General Bonta.

Read more here.

CAST Nominated for The For Freedom Impact Award

Cast has been nominated for The For Freedom Impact Award, which highlights organizations that Freedom United has partnered closely with on modern slavery campaigns in 2023, raising awareness and securing significant changes for a world more resilient to modern slavery.

Voting is now open to the public  and will continue through January 25th. The winner at the end of the month. Vote for Cast here.

Blumenthal & Hawley Introduce New Bipartisan Legislation Ending Forced Arbitration in Human Trafficking

On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced new legislation to hold human traffickers accountable by giving victims of trafficking crimes the opportunity to seek justice through the courts.

“Forcing victims of modern-day slavery into a rigged arbitration system deprives them of one of the most powerful tools they have to hold their traffickers accountable: access to justice,” Blumenthal said. “This narrowly crafted and bipartisan legislation will make human traffickers pay for their crimes.”

Read the press release: Forced Arbitration Press Release

Saving Critical Services for Crime Victims: An Op-Ed by Cast CEO Kay Buck

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) supports state and local programs aimed providing services to victims of crime, including those who have been trafficked, through the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). Unlike other government programs funded by taxpayer dollars, the CVF is financed by fines and fees collected from the prosecution of white-collar crimes at the federal level. However, this year, the VOCA program is facing a significant shortfall of $700 million, which will directly impact the ability of victims of crime to access the much-needed services they require. Read Kay’s Op-Ed on VOCA funding in Capitol Weekly here.

Are You a Survivor of Human Trafficking?

Cast helps people who have been forced, threatened, or tricked into any kind of work, including commercial sex, by providing legal and social services.

You could be a human trafficking survivor if… (READ MORE)