During this episode, Sandra Morgan and Dave Stachowiak interview Deputy District Attorney Bradley Schoenleben is with the HEAT Unit of the OC District Attorney’s Office. A component of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force is the OC District Attorney’s Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, which targets perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage youth for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers.
Bradley explains how he got into this job of “putting the bad guys away” and explains how the prosecution process has changed with more understanding of the subculture of the pimps and human traffickers, as well as the victims. This unit was created in April 2014 to focus on prosecuting the human traffickers, and “rape of prostitute” cases. The victims involved in these cases are unique in their character traits and it is vital to learn how to communicate with them in order to effectively process a case. Brad highlights that the pop culture’s depiction of pimps is largely different than what is being dealt with today. We often have misguided views of what these terms mean and what these people may look like in our everyday surroundings.
A key to helping these victims is consistency and allowing the victims to have space without force to get the help they need. The unit has found that it is better to take a victims centered approach which allows them to make their own decision to leave “the life” rather than barging in and telling the victims what to do. Controlling them with power and authority is another form of exploitation on these victims. Brad shares how it is difficult to keep doing what he is doing while knowing that there will be so many victims that he never gets to help, but he finds hope and reassurance that for the ones he DOES help, it changes their lives and really does make a difference in stopping this ongoing cycle of human trafficking.
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