There’s a lack of awareness regarding sex trafficking. Girls and adult women are being arrested by law enforcement for prostitution when they are actually victims of sex trafficking. Meanwhile, incarcerated women are subjected to the risk of sex trafficking within the facilities where recruiters are just waiting for the next product to endorse to the sex trafficking honchos outside jails and prisons. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the vast criminal operations linked to sex trafficking.
Barbara Mattes joins the Justice Clearinghouse to unpack the intricacies of sex trafficking within detention and correctional facilities. Barbara is a sergeant with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department Corrections Bureau, who’s served in various roles in her 17-year career. She is certified by the Arizona Governor’s Office as an anti-human trafficking instructor.
Specifics of this webinar expounded on:
- How issues within jails and prisons trickle down to the communities.
- The challenges related to sex trafficking due to corrections’ staff not recognizing sex trafficking within the walls of jails and prisons, lack of understanding of the difference between prostitution and sex trafficking, and inability to comprehend why these victims don’t just leave.
- Dissecting the lack of awareness on the dynamics of sex trafficking traced to lack of training and identification and reporting methods.
- The conditions that prevent victims from leaving the life, trade, and relationships they’re involved in.
- The link between addiction and sex trafficking and how drugs are being leveraged to keep girls and women from running away.
- An overview of federal and local human trafficking statutes that defines what constitutes sex trafficking.
- What is being offered to entice and recruit girls from correction facilities without explaining the true intention and objective which is sex trafficking.
- Exchange of services: How girls being recruited for sex trafficking are being bailed out by the sex traffickers which then subjects them to servitude where the traffickers receive the earnings of the trafficked women.
- The involvement of gangs in sex trafficking, the other link crimes as human and drug trafficking, and how money circulates within these illicit activities.
- The profitable sex trafficking business model, their average earnings, how they keep their products fresh, and how the dynamics really exploit women and girls.
- Victim indicators and sex trafficking terms to learn and familiarize with to better recognize sex trafficking recruitment and activity within jails and prisons.
- Perpetrators’ tactics to recruit incarcerated women and girls through:
- Female inmates who serve as recruiters.
- Visits, letters, and providing funds while in jail to establish rapport and trust.
- Online databases that aggregate arrestee’s mugshots and information.
- A glimpse into the 3-step implementation that equips corrections staff with the tools to better recognize potential sex trafficking within the facilities.
- Other initiatives, tools, resources, and examples to better understand and address this issue moving forward.
Questions from the audience were about:
- The amount of training required for corrections officers on the topic of sex trafficking.
- Sex trafficking and juvenile detention.
- How long and pervasive sex trafficking has been happening in jails and prisons.
- The initial contact between a trafficker and the potential victim.
- Sex trafficking for men and the LGBTQ+ community.
- The outcomes of the victims after the sex trafficker is prosecuted.
- Involvement of corrections staff in facilitating recruitment.
- Database for the tattoos that serve as indicators of trafficking.
How victim services can provide valuable help to sex trafficking victims.
Resources and Handouts
- Power and Control Wheel
- The Trap: Sex Trafficking Cycle in American Prisons (Summary) (Video link – Youtube)
- Suggested Reading
- Sex Trafficking Terms
- “I learned that there are so many methods for traffickers and recruiters that I had never considered.” — Angela
- “There was so much excellent information to garner from! The difference between prostitution and “yielding” was quite eye-opening, especially for my clientele. As a Crime Victims Advocate, I have encountered a few clients that have ST in their journey. However, the corrections piece isn’t given adequate focus. Thank you for enlightening me.” — Angela
- “I learned how to detect it but also how important it is to establish a reporting system. I think this is a huge reason on why these don’t get reported because the staff is unsure about what is happening and who to report it to.” — Kathy
- “Wow! The presentation was fascinating and I had no idea this realm of trafficking was happening! Very informative and she did a great job giving a highlight of a HUGE topic in 60 minutes!” — Corinne
- “The presenter was very knowledgeable. I did not realize these traffickers would continue to run their operations from behind bars. It was interesting to learn this information and what to look for.” — Jeremy
- “The abundant amount of resources that Barbara provided was exceptional, I’ve saved them all and will read. 🙂 I loved her facts and stats that she gave us on sex trafficking victims and indicators, etc. I got so much out of this webinar, thank you Justice Clearinghouse (Christine), and Barbara! I would love to sign up for more on these important topics, as it is a horrible crisis in this nation and globally. My heart hurts for all the victims across all ages, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds!” — Nicole
- “I was so in the dark about so many aspects of trafficking, this was outstanding.” — Todd
- “Everything presented was valuable information. Great webinar, the presenter did an excellent job. I would definitely attend more webinars on this topic or by this presenter.” — Kira