Department of Justice awards more than $49 million to combat human trafficking
PHOENIX – On Sept. 29, the Department of Justice awarded grants totaling more than $49 million to state, local and tribal jurisdictions, law enforcement agencies, and victim service providers to combat human trafficking across the United States. Arizona is among the 25 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that will be impacted by the awarded funds.
The awards include funding to provide comprehensive and specialized services for human trafficking victims, support task forces that investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases, assist child victims of sex trafficking, and support research designed to improve understanding of the nature of human trafficking crimes and develop best practices to prevent and respond to such crimes. Funding comes out of the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP’s) Office for Victims of Crime, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and National Institute of Justice, and DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women.
Human trafficking includes sex and labor trafficking of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens of all ages.
“The true measure of our strength as a society is how we treat the most vulnerable among us,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “That is why the Department of Justice is committed to fighting human trafficking, a heinous crime that preys on the young and the defenseless. These critical grants will fund efforts across the country to deepen our understanding of this appalling practice, to bring traffickers to justice, and to support survivors as they heal and begin their lives anew.”
This year’s announcement includes awards for $15.8 million to 22 law enforcement agencies and victim service providers to operate multidisciplinary task forces, enabling them to conduct criminal investigations, prosecutions, prevention and community education initiatives to combat human trafficking as well as to provide comprehensive services to trafficking victims. Within each task force location, one award supports the lead law enforcement agency and another award supports the lead victim service provider. The grantees will work collaboratively with other members of the task force, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office; the local prosecutor’s office; federal, state and local law enforcement agencies; and community and system-based service providers.
More than $20 million was awarded to 34 victim service providers. Some providers received grants to provide comprehensive services to any human trafficking victim identified within a target geographic region. Other providers received grants to offer specialized services for victims of human trafficking, including culturally, linguistically and developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed services for underserved victims.
Two states will receive a total of $4.75 million for improving outcomes for child and youth trafficking victims, while three organizations have been awarded a total of $1.2 million to increase services for urban American Indian and Alaska Native victims of sex trafficking. Two individuals have been awarded grants to provide the Office for Victims of Crime with in-house subject matter expertise on the topics of human trafficking task forces and survivor-informed services. In addition, $2.9 million was awarded for training and technical assistance, and more than $2.6 million was awarded to six nonprofit and faith-based organizations to provide mentoring and other direct services to youth victimized by or at risk of domestic sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. A $300,000 grant will fund training and assistance for Office on Violence Against Women grantees to help them plug gaps in services for youth victims of sex trafficking.
Finally, more than $1.7 million supports four research and evaluation projects designed to address gaps in knowledge about human trafficking. Funds will be used to evaluate investigation and prosecution strategies, identify effective approaches for serving human trafficking victims, and measure the prevalence of trafficking among homeless and runaway youth.