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In 2019, New York State had a reported 454 cases of labor and sex trafficking. It had the fourth most cases of any state in the U.S. behind California, Texas, and Florida, the three most populous states. Sadly, there are likely far more trafficking cases than were reported. In the 21st century, New York State has taken considerable action to combat human trafficking by passing legislation including the Human Trafficking Act (2007) and the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act (2008). But in 2013, the state began using the criminal justice system to combat sex trafficking. New York established the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs) which receives and evaluates prostitution cases to identify victims of sex trafficking who were mistakenly arrested as voluntary sex workers. This is the first state-wide system of intervention courts in the United States. Once victims are identified, they are provided with various services including job training and medical care. However, many have raised the question of whether people who have been trafficked are being treated as victims or criminals. For example, the HTICs have been criticized for being able to identify victims only after they have been arrested and charged with a crime. This research aims to examine the benefits and drawbacks of the intervention courts by analyzing current and proposed legislation and corroborating secondary source reports on the courts. By evaluating the HTICs, this research can guide reformations made in New York’s response to human trafficking.



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Victims on Trial: New York’s Response to Sex Trafficking