The state of Minnesota doubled convictions for human trafficking between 2012 and 2013, according to a recent report prepared by the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Overall, trafficking-related convictions have increased steadily, from just 13 in 2007 to 63 in 2013. Minnesota amended its prostitution laws in 2009 to include a strict definition of sex trafficking. The OJP considers Minnesota’s law more effective than federal law in holding traffickers accountable for exploiting women and girls because prosecutors in Minnesota don't have to prove traffickers coerced victims into prostitution.
However, the OJP also notes that trafficking is a “hidden crime,” and that “[m]ost of the individuals involved in human trafficking and related offenses are never arrested, charged or convicted.” Victims are often not discovered or identified. Minnesota recently passed Safe Harbor legislation to partially address this problem for sexually exploited youth. The law protects minors from criminal prostitution charges and increases services for victims. The law also created the “No Wrong Door” model. Once this model is fully implemented, it will be “one of the most comprehensive systems in the nation for identifying sexually exploited youth and ensuring they receive effective services,” according to OJP.
The OJP’s report also summarizes the experience of service providers and law enforcement with trafficking, including interactions with victims and criminal investigations. The OJP’s survey found that 83% of service providers reported helping a sex trafficking victim, while only 15% of law enforcement said they had a dedicated trafficking officer or unit.
Since 2005, Minnesota law has required the OJP to prepare regular studies on human trafficking in the state.
Compiled from: Study: Human Trafficking Arrests Double in Minnesota, ABC News, 5 Eyewitness News (October 15, 2014); Human Trafficking in Minnesota, Minnesota Office of Justice Programs (September 2014).