Efforts Underway to Recognize Forced Criminality as Victimhood in Human Trafficking Cases

Efforts Underway to Recognize Forced Criminality as Victimhood in Human Trafficking Cases

A growing number of human trafficking advocates and some legislators are pushing for a shift in both public opinion and legal theory, one in which young people who commit crimes while under the control of human traffickers are recognized as victims, not just perpetrators. The Sunita Jain Initiative, a think tank at Loyola Law in Los Angeles, is at the forefront of this effort.

Southern California, particularly Los Angeles, is widely viewed as a national epicenter for forced criminality, a form of human trafficking where victims are coerced into committing crimes. While there isn’t reliable data on the exact number of underage trafficking victims in this legal abyss, experts estimate that hundreds of children fall victim to forced criminality each year.

Stephanie Richard, an attorney and human trafficking expert, argues that the criminal justice system should question the involvement of a third party benefiting from a child’s illegal services. She advocates for better training for police, prosecutors, and judges to recognize when a child is being coerced into breaking the law and how that coercion can impact their lives.

The effort to change thinking about forced criminality and raise awareness about labor-related human trafficking includes proposed legislation. State Senator Melissa Hurtado’s SB1157 aims to prevent the state from purchasing products made with forced labor, while State Senator Susan Rubio’s SB998 seeks to expand services currently offered only to victims of sex-related human trafficking to include victims of labor-related trafficking, including those forced to commit crimes.

The article highlights the case of Jimmy Lopez, who was coerced into joining a gang in Honduras at the age of 9. After escaping to the United States, he found himself involved in forced criminality and was eventually convicted of drug trafficking at the age of 16. Lopez’s story sheds light on the need to recognize the circumstances under which these young victims are forced into criminal behavior.

While some argue that victims of forced criminality should be treated differently from victims of forced sex work, others, like Aja Hoyle, a trafficking survivor and advocate, believe that all victims of human trafficking deserve equal recognition and support. Hoyle shares her own experience of being forced into both sex work and labor-related criminal activities, emphasizing that both forms of trafficking cause immense pain and trauma.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” – Benjamin Franklin

    This quote resonates with the post because it highlights the need for a shift in public opinion and legal theory regarding young people involved in human trafficking. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing these young individuals as victims rather than solely as perpetrators of crimes. The quote suggests that true justice can only be achieved when society as a whole is equally outraged by the injustices faced by these victims. It calls

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