Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $290,614)
Despite legislation across the U.S. defining youth engaging in commercial sex as victims, minors continue to be arrested for prostitution-related crimes. Research shows black and brown youth to disproportionately be engaging in commercial sex. Responses to this victim/offender dichotomy range from criminalization to mitigation to non-criminalization. Non-profits have made a push to implement non-criminalization statutes in every state to protect youth from being identified as offenders rather than victims. Concurrently, human trafficking prevention courts are being implemented across the country, following in the footsteps of other problem-solving courts. This genre focuses on adults and minors engaging in commercial sex but varies in terms of eligibility, definitions of success, etc. Research on these courts is limited, especially as related to minors. The impact of non-criminalization statutes on these courts has not been investigated. This proposal seeks to fill this research gap by implementing a landscape analysis which will include a literature review and process evaluation of human trafficking prevention courts for minors. The research will consider both the application of the theory of change and trauma-informed practices in the evaluation. Multiple data collection tools will be used including a literature review, Qualtrics survey, interviews, focus groups, program materials review, and court observations. Data collection will occur through site visits in some cases and virtually in others. All human trafficking diversion courts for minors will be invited to participate in the research. Over the 36-month period, data collection tools will be developed, data collected, and results computed and disseminated. Dissemination will target both academic and non-academic populations and will include a final report to OVC, a peer-reviewed journal article, and additional publication designed for non-academic audiences, and at least two conference presentations aimed at academic and practitioner audiences. Given that this research is part of a fellowship, the fellow will also support OVC in any human trafficking related matters, including contributing to events, trainings and technical assistance requests.