Laws addressing human trafficking have been passed in all 50 U.S. states as well as at the federal level. Although laws serve an important function in establishing social norms against a behavior, they can also create a belief that it is the responsibility of law enforcement to curb that behavior. Law enforcement and other actors in the criminal justice system have a critical role to play in addressing the problem of human trafficking, but this is not a problem that they can solve alone. A multipronged strategy engaging the fields of public health, medicine, social work, and criminal justice as well as the general public would be more effective in successfully identifying and responding to instances of human trafficking. Implications of the misperception that human trafficking is a criminal justice issue are discussed.

Author Biography

Dr. Pfeffer is an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Houston – Downtown. Her research focuses generally on the victimization of vulnerable populations, including victims with special needs and victims of human trafficking. Her current research focuses on public policies addressing prostitution, both in terms of the buying and selling of sex, and specifically investigates effective law enforcement response to the problem of prostitution.