Understanding and instituting a victim-centered rather than a criminal approach to human trafficking is the aim of the Judges' Conference on Domestic Human Trafficking, an event sponsored by The Samaritan Women (www.thesamaritanwomen.org) that will gather nationally recognized anti human trafficking experts here from across the country on Feb. 20.
Each year, an estimated 100,000 children and thousands more women are sold for sex in the United States. The average age of those entering the sex trade is just 12-14 years old, and victims of trafficking regularly find themselves caught up in the criminal justice system.
The Judges' Conference aims to raise awareness and educate judges about the growing problem of human trafficking. Organizers hope judges will see and recognize these individuals as victims of human trafficking instead of as criminals. Judges have numerous options at their disposal beyond imprisonment when sentencing victims of human trafficking. The effectiveness of diversion programs, as opposed to imprisonment, will be one of the themes of the event.
Speakers will address topics such as effective prosecutions, working with victim services, restitution and victim remedies, among numerous others.
Event organizer The Samaritan Women is a nonprofit that seeks justice, reconciliation and healing for women recovering from domestic human trafficking, with Venable, LLP, as host.
Speakers include Martina Vandenberg, founder of the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center in Washington, D.C. ("Restitution and Victim Remedies"); Judge Paul Herbert, founder of CATCH Court in Columbus, Ohio ("From the Bench"); Det. Billy Woolf of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force ("Human Trafficking in the DMV Region"); and Jeanne Allert, founder and executive director of The Samaritan Women ("Working with Victim Service Providers").
"Each day, thousands of women across the U.S. get caught in the clutches of the criminal justice system just because they are victims of human trafficking," said Allert. "At the conference, we want to help educate and encourage judges to adopt a victim-centered approach for dealing with these individuals. By doing so, we hope victims can find the healing, help and direction they desperately need."
Judges interested in attending should contact Melissa Yao at firstname.lastname@example.org. A complimentary copy of "A Guide to Human Trafficking for State Courts" by John A. Martin will be distributed to those who attend.