Minnesota Law Review

Note, From the Inside Out: Reforming State and Local Prostitution Enforcement to Combat Sex Trafficking in the United States and Abroad

Over the past eight years, federal and state governments have passed anti-trafficking laws and spent millions of dollars to combat sex trafficking. However, as evidenced by the minimal rate of convictions and the continually expanding sex trafficking market, these policies have not achieved proportionate results.

This Note argues that without a significant paradigm shift in state and local prostitution enforcement, national anti-trafficking goals will continue to go unrealized. The dominant prostitution enforcement model poses serious obstacles to domestic anti-trafficking goals. By arresting and prosecuting all persons in prostitution without providing a defense for trafficking victims, current enforcement practices frustrate federal victim-protection mandates. At the same time, by failing to investigate and prosecute traffickers, pimps, and purchasers, state enforcement practices undermine federal objectives of deterring traffickers and reducing the market for sex trafficking.

Prostitution has been largely discounted as a trivial or inappropriate matter for federal intervention. Nevertheless, the perceptions and protocols used by state and local “vice squads” often determine whether trafficking victims are ever identified and whether their traffickers are subsequently investigated. At the same time, since trafficking crimes are among the most difficult and resource-intensive cases to prove, a lax approach towards pimping allows traffickers to evade even baseline legal consequences. Consequently, the federal government should train and equip state agencies to incorporate victim-centered, demand-targeted anti-trafficking practices into existing prostitution response models.

:: View PDF

De Novo

  • Case Comment: Bhogaita v. Altamonte

    EVERY DOG CAN HAVE HIS DAY IN COURT: THE USE OF ANIMALS AS DEMONSTRATIVE EXHIBITS Kyle R. Kroll, Volume 100, Online Managing Editor In Bhogaita v. Altamonte, the Eleventh Circuit recently decided whether to allow a dog in the courtroom as a demonstrative exhibit.[1] Although the case presented many serious [...]

  • Revisiting Water Bankruptcy

    REVISITING WATER BANKRUPTCY IN CALIFORNIA’S FOURTH YEAR OF DROUGHT Olivia Moe, Volume 100, Managing Editor This spring, as “extreme” to “exceptional” drought stretched across most of California—indicating that a four-year streak of drought was not about to resolve itself[1]—Governor Jerry Brown issued an unprecedented order to reduce potable urban water [...]

  • Defying Auer Deference

    DEFYING AUER DEFERENCE: SKIDMORE AS A SOLUTION TO CONSERVATIVE CONCERNS IN PEREZ v. MORTGAGE BANKERS ASSOCIATION Nicholas R. Bednar, Volume 100, Lead Articles Editor* On March 9, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association.[1]F The Court overturned the D.C. [...]