- The Protected Innocence Challenge Legislative Framework recognizes that most of the faps in responding to domestic minor sex trafficking must be addressed at the state level.
- Using this framework to grade states based on the strength of their laws related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children, there has been significant progress in advancing their laws in states across the country.
- Shared Hope International
- Protected Innocence Challenge
- Internet Safety Guide
- Advocacy Action Center
- Invading the Darkness
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Dave [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 214 – The role of Advocacy in Prevention and Protection.
Production Credits [00:00:10] Produced by Innovate Learning, Maximizing Human Potential.
Dave [00:00:30] Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.
Sandie [00:00:35] And my name is Sandie Morgan.
Dave [00:00:38] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, glad to be back with you again today.
Sandie [00:00:48] Me too.
Dave [00:00:50] Today, an important conversation with an important leader in this space. We’re really thrilled to welcome to the show today, Congresswoman Linda Smith. She is the founder and president of Shared Hope International. Linda was recently appointed to the White House Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to end human trafficking. And Sandie, you and I have talked about this the last few episodes.
Sandie [00:01:11] That’s right.
Dave [00:01:12] Linda is the primary author of From Congress to the Brothel and Renting Lacey and coauthor of The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in the Demand Report. Linda has testified before Congress presented at national and international forums and has been published in news outlets and journals. Linda served as a Washington state legislator from 1983 to 1993, before she was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1994. And she’s joined today by Christine Reno. Good morning to you both.
Linda [00:01:41] Good morning.
Christine [00:01:42] Good morning.
Sandie [00:01:43] We’re,, so glad to have you here. Linda, would you introduce Christine?
Linda [00:01:49] Oh, I am delighted to. Christine Reno started with Shared Hope, now, nearly 10 years ago. She came in to help boost the legal side of Shared Hope because we were going to grade every state on 41 points of law. And the first point was having a law on domestic minor sex trafficking and make sure the men that buy those kids for sex are perceived as the and actually penalized as the serious felons that they are. They’re rapists of children and they should be treated that way. So, Christine has led the legal team that keeps growing here at the institute in analyzing all the 50 state laws. She, I don’t know where you passed your bar, but I know you did.
Christine [00:02:37] DC in Virginia.
Linda [00:02:37] DC in Virginia, and before she came here, you practiced in the courts.
Sandie [00:02:44] That’s great. And what that really represents to all of us, especially in the nonprofit sector, combating human trafficking, is we never do this alone. We always have to have a team of experts to really capture all of it because no one person can do it on their own. But tell us just briefly, for those who have never heard of Shared Hope, how long it’s been around and what your primary mission is.
Linda [00:03:16] Well, I was still in Congress. I ended up being called about,, some children in cage-like situations in India. And I couldn’t sleep,, so I went and found it was true. I got a hold my husband and a friend, converted assets, and started safe houses all within about five days.
Sandie [00:03:34] Wow.
Linda [00:03:34] And I couldn’t stop because,, some of those were young women, mostly that had nowhere to go. And a prostitute gets very little sympathy, whether they’re 12, 13, or 23. There’s just very little sympathy around the world. They’re labeled and denied justice. And I just couldn’t stop. But early in the time that Shared Hope existed, and I started Shared Hope while I was still a member of the U.S. Congress. I started realizing that not only did people not know, but the new law passed in 2000 was not being understood. Most people didn’t understand that we, the Congress, made this law to apply domestically too, not just to those coming across borders, but domestically. So, the agencies really weren’t doing much except for cross borders, people coming in, and they certainly did not think the new law applied to buyers of commercial sex. And in fact, after several times of appeals, finally in 2013, it was verified by the courts that the law did apply to buyers. And the words,, so licit, obtain, those types of words that were in the law certainly meant the buyer was a part of the act. 2013, 13 years.
Sandie [00:04:54] Wow.
Linda [00:04:54] But Shared Hope did the research, the ground research under another corporation called trafficking markets. And we went into all the states involved as well as three other countries. And we ran the same model who’s buying, who’s selling, what were they selling, how far would the buyer go on the properties? And when we came out of that and I presented that research back to Congress, it was congressional research off of the new trafficking office. We showed that the primary product in the United States for sex trafficking was a minor, and normally was about a middle school child, from what we found. And that I found a lot of 11 to 13-year-olds and so we had what we had found. We used Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia, Las Vegas, later we added Kansas, 10 other states, Texas, with a lot of other states. And then we produced the DMST, the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Report, and then called on Congress to call on the states for change.
Sandie [00:05:56] So, really, you took your research and your advocacy, and your headquarters is just blocking from Congress, right?
Linda [00:06:06] It’s two blocks from the White House, so not very far from the congressional offices.
Sandie [00:06:11] OK, so you took your background in Congress, your research, and your passion and turned that into an amazing opportunity to be an advocate. And on our Ending Human Trafficking podcast, we often talk about the three P’s, now we have five P’s, but prevention and protection are the first two. And Shared Hope has an amazing reputation for advocating for prevention and for protection. And I think what we want to talk about today is that the Protected Innocence Challenge report that just came out and I think that’s why we have Christine Reno with us in the room. And, so I want to help our listeners understand why policy at the state level is, so important. So, tell us about what the report is. Let’s start there.
Linda [00:07:16] Before I came to Congress, I was over with children and family services for the state Senate and one of the leaders of the state Senate in Washington state and had experience on sentencing guidelines for sexual offenders, knew the structures of the state law, how the federal law intersects. And I was able to take apart the issues and figure out how to get them through state levels. So, what we ended up doing was taking what laws would need to hop on a template. And then we decide to try to use states to work on the Washington state from, some of the first ones and then get, some of those laws through. And I think what the obstacles to passage were, but not move the template, then we literally took it to the attorney generals of all 50 states and said, “OK, we’ve now gone into your code, in your state, your actual law applied these 41 points. And here’s what you have, you don’t have, and what you need to strengthen.” We were like 47 percent, Christine?
Christine [00:08:18] In the first year in 2011, when we launched the inaugural report, we actually had most of the majority of tate with that. The interesting thing that shocked me is that they didn’t have any law at all or any application of law if the child is called a prostitute. Men brought money to the crime, he was just a John as long as he brought money to the crime and didn’t get penalty.
Linda [00:08:42] So, in America, in the 1800s the prostitution laws were put in place. At the same time, the court cases in the early nineteen hundred and before were coming up with, well, there are immoral women and there are fallen women. Now they could have been a girl outside of Chicago that was brought into Chicago. These are, some of the cases that I’ve seen. And one day she was coming and thinking she was working in the factory, the next she was put in a place of prostitution for wealthy men. They called that a resort. Now, the law says then at that point that she is a fallen, immoral woman. And a court case says, “yes, she can’t be considered even as credible as a witness because she’s an immoral woman.” At the footnote of the case, it says, “but this does not apply to male, the same standard.” So, now you’ve got that same law in place. And when we entered this fight, the first thing we had to do is take her out of the criminal law. All states had her to, some extent in the criminal law, five had a little bit of, something. But in general, nobody was applying that she was a victim of a violent crime, and, sometimes he. But we did the research on she’s at that point. And then we found that in all states, we could not find cases where the child abuser, the men that brought money to the crime was put in jail for as a serious offender. Some had fines. Some had misdemeanors. But even those we couldn’t see were applied. Now we’re talking about modern-day and in 20 states, that bias from that 1800-1900, that the girl was immoral and usually we were finding about girls, I’m sure there were males, that now in 20 states, those were laws that said she was a prostitute, no matter what age she was, they’re still in place. Well, some of the States say, “but we don’t use that. We use the child trafficking laws.” Well, then remove them because they’re causing both confusion and they’re still calling a child, a person of the federal government cannot be called culpable for the crimes committed against that child, a prostitute.
Sandie [00:11:07] So, you’re talking about 41 points. Can you give us a generalized understanding of what those 41 points are?
Christine [00:11:16] Sure. There really was a need to kind of look at the state laws comprehensively. And, so that was kind of how this led to the creation of the framework, because as a result of the research that was done through the domestic minor sex trafficking report and also the demand report, looking at the markets, the former victims, including the U.S., there were, so many aspects of the law that are impacted. And that really needed a state level response. The federal law is a strong law, but there is a lot that is happening at the state level. So, the framework as it was developed, one of the things that Linda mentioned was missing was actually having penalties and really having the same recognition in state law that trafficking is a specific type of exploitation that needed specific criminal laws to address it. That was not recognized nearly as widely at the state level as it had been under federal law. So, that was kind of a core part of it, was looking at what are the basic laws that are in place to criminalize trafficking. But then also the framework looks at how the criminal law is also quite a bit different actor. So, whether that’s the trafficker or whether that is the buyer, the person who is driving the demand by purchasing sex with children, or whether that’s the facilitator, whether the person is, so rt of turning a blind eye, opening the back door of the hotel, driving, providing livery services. There’s various rules that facilitators play as well and have culpability in also allowing and perpetuating the crimes, child sex trafficking. And one of the biggest parts of the framework is also the kind of goes to the purpose, which is protecting child victims. And, so I’d say the largest number of components under this 41-component framework do concentrate in that area. And that ranges from whether children are charged with a crime of prostitution as a result of their victimization, whether children are given the opportunity to whether they’re basically identified, whether there are barriers in the law that prevent them from being identified. And then whether they’re in range of protection, ranging from comprehensive specialized services to access to justice issues, with extending the statute of limitations to ensure that there’s the ability to bring civil claims or prosecution down the road when a child or survivor is able to go through that difficult process of a civil or criminal case, that’s kind of a big part of it. And then we also have a number, a section that looks at, some of the tools that are important, including training for law enforcement as an example. But that really makes sure that, OK, we have the laws in place, but do we have the tools for successful investigations and prosecutions? So, that’s kind of an overview of what the framework was about.
Sandie [00:14:18] One of the things that really captured my imagination early on when I first started reading this report every year is using a report card format. I mean, it, so aligns with from the perspective of the child. But we all get it. Did you get an A? Then we’re going to go get ice cream cones after school, but some states didn’t get an A. But let’s start with can you give us an example of a state that got an A and why they got an A?
Christine [00:14:48] Sure. I was going to actually start with the top state, which is Tennessee. And Tennessee has actually been our top state for the last three years. This is their third year as the top state. And one of the things I think that’s interesting about Tennessee is that Tennessee has kept this on the radar. They were one of our first day states, when we actually released the inaugural report in 2011. Not only were most of the states failing, but we also had no A states, we really weren’t there. And it actually took a couple of years to get to the point where we even had A states. And now we actually have over 30, I think 35, states have either an A or B, we have no failing states, and we only have two D states. So, there’s really been quite a bit of change and an advancement in state laws, which has been very encouraging. I mean, with regard to Tennessee, a key part of the narrative there is that we’ve seen them come back year after year and it’s been on the radar, it’s been a priority. And I think that’s been the case with a number of the A states, that this issue is not like they just passed one bill, and everything got fixed. There are, some states that have comprehensive bills and really improved by leaps and bounds. But what this really takes is staying with it each year and coming back and always keeping it as a priority. On the other hand, we saw a state like Illinois, which was a B, is one of the top four states, I believe, in 2011. Their grade has not gone up since then. So, this is,, something that we’re,, so rt of struggling with. We’d love to see Illinois really tackle this, even though there is a lot happening on the ground, and we do recognize that. And I want to just quickly also clarify that what we are grading are the laws, we are not grading the implementation or the enforcement of the laws. And we do recognize there can be great work being done. But having the laws in place and the reason we decided it was important to grade the laws is because the laws provide that longevity over time, it promotes that there’s a state wide approach,, so that this is a state law, this is,, something we want to be happening.
Sandie [00:17:10] So, when my listeners from all 50 states are listening to this podcast, I want them to know their next steps. How are they going to use this? And it feels like looking at your state’s report, and what is the legal framework there, and then what are the recommendations? Because we often have people who want to do, something, but they can’t become a volunteer, they are working, they don’t have other resources. But they could become advocates by studying this report and connecting with their legal representatives, either congressionally or their state senate, state assembly. And you’re going to provide in this report a basis for where to start with that advocacy. Is that what I understand?
Linda [00:18:04] You do, and we’re giving people really easy tools. The most powerful person is a person is each of you listening because if you’re listening, you can tell, somebody what you heard. Most likely you’re online, most likely you have a Facebook account, you have friends, you have e-mail. So, we have set together a plan, an advocacy action center that I’m going to ask Christine to send you to. But one thing I want to give you, that I think all of you probably want, and that is Internet Safety for adults. So, you can understand where your kids are, because we now have put together a package of videos and printed material that will help you understand the apps, the way your children are to be approached, how you can deal with that, and you won’t be as afraid. We’re all kind of afraid as adults that the kids are ahead of us when they are. This is a predator place, they’re after your kids. It doesn’t make any difference who the kid is. They love belonging, they love their friends, and they come in as a friend and start belonging to the friend. And they think this friend, they’ve got an image of them in their head. It might turn romantic, maybe not. And before long, they meet the friend. And that is not the person they thought in their mind it would be, and then we’re just too late. So, we’re going to teach you how to protect your child and how to advocate for strong laws. And we give you tools you can use in just a few minutes a day. I’m going to have Christine talk about the Advocacy Action Center.
Sandie [00:19:35] OK, Christine.
Christine [00:19:37] So, the Advocacy Action Center is, something that we developed because of this question that you ask. We really want to give people easy tools to get involved. And you’re right, there’s a limited time, but there is tremendous impact that people can have just by reaching out to their legislator. As a constituent, you have a lot of power, there’s a lot that wants to hear from you. So, the Advocacy Action Center makes it pretty easy. We have a full range of campaigns available. We have in addition to as we head into the legislative session, the Advocacy Action Center, we encourage people to just kind of keep checking back because there’s a lot happening. But right now, even right now. And actually, it’s a great time to do this, we have a campaign set up. So, if you go to the Advocacy Action Center, which is a sharedhope.org, it’s under the for Justice and Advocacy. Through the Advocacy Action Center, you put in your zip code and it will take you to the campaigns that are available for your state. And right now, depending on what grade your state got, there is a campaign for you to let your legislator know how your state is doing and to urge them to close the remaining gaps. So, it’s a very quick, easy way to connect with the legislator. It can be done via Twitter, it can be done via email, and it’s a very effective way, and pretty quick.
Sandie [00:21:01] I love how simple that is, Christine. So, I go to SharedHope.org and then I click on the Justice Center and put in my zip code and then I have a plan for what to do right in my own community. Right?
Christine [00:21:17] Yes, you do.
Sandie [00:21:18] I love that! Linda, it is just such a delight to talk to you. And I’m very excited that we’re colleagues on the advisory council, I’m looking forward to working with you. And I’m sure that our listeners will get to hear from you again. And I’m looking forward to meeting Christine when I’m out there in D.C., because my dream, someday is to get a law degree, but my family won’t let me go back to school right now. So, I believe that legal framework, if we understand it, we can use it to become better advocates, especially for prevention and as well as protection. So, thank you both for being on the Ending Human Trafficking podcast today.
Christine [00:22:07] Thank you for having us.
Linda [00:22:07] You’re very welcome. You know, Sandra, I thought of,, something that I’d like you to think about. We’re a part of history. Christine and I were talking about that earlier today. Until two years ago, none of the states acknowledged domestic minor sex trafficking as a crime. And now 85 percent of the grade is there. Eighty five percent average reporting,, so me percent. So, people are waking up, but now they’re hungry for,, something to do. But you’ll see pretty ordinary people that God used to bring about an extra ordinary movement that is now strong enough to take on the hardest issues.
Sandie [00:22:43] I am, so grateful for getting to have this time with you. And I hope that our listeners will look for Invading the Darkness, go to sharedhope.org, and especially put in your zip code,, so you can see what’s happening in your area and become part of the advocacy team. Thank you, everybody. Thanks, Dave.
Dave [00:23:06] Oh, thank you,, so much, Congresswoman and Christine, we’re,, so grateful for your partnership. Sandie, you said it early on,,, so much of the work that we are doing is about partnership and working together as a team. And we’re inviting you also to take that very first step along with us. If you go online, you can download a copy of Sandie’s book, The Five Things You Must Know, a Quick Start Guide to Ending Human Trafficking. It’ll give you the five critical things that Sandie, and her work here at the Global Center for Women and Justice, have identified to help you know before you join the fight against trafficking. You can access that at endinghumantrafficking.org. And also, we invite you to learn more about the Ensure Justice conference coming up March 6th and 7th here in Southern California, 2020. That’s at EnsureJustice.com. And of course, all the resources for the show, the notes, and all the links we mentioned today on the episode will be over at endinghumantrafficking.org. And Sandie, I will see you again in two weeks.
Sandie [00:24:12] Alright.
Dave [00:24:12] Thanks, everyone. Have a great day.