The purpose of this thesis was to examine and assess justice system efforts in combating human trafficking; more specifically sex trafficking. The goal was to understand how efforts of combating human trafficking started, how they progressed, and to explore where efforts remain at this time. Additionally, the goal was to identify and understand what is working in law enforcement, human trafficking courts, and policy. This included identifying issues such as disparity in law enforcement reporting, lack of recognition of sex trafficking, and outdated policies. To assess these issues, this project utilized human trafficking data available through the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR), including human trafficking arrests and clearance rates, as well as reported tip data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) between the years of 2015-2018. Additionally, this analysis incorporated Polaris Project’s report card scores on the quality of criminal record relief laws addressing adult sex trafficking survivors. The four years of data were analyzed to identify relationships between law enforcement arrests and NHTH reporting, as well as to assess whether or not there was a relationship in clearance rates and the quality of criminal record relief laws. An important finding included identifying that there is a positive moderate to strong relationship between NHTH reporting and law enforcement arrests, indicating that there is a likelihood that law enforcement recognition and awareness is improving. Another important finding includes a considerable issue in lack of data reported within human trafficking courts where there is an inability to assess the effect they may have on clearance rates. Criminal record relief laws appear to have no relationship with clearance rates, leaving open questions regarding how many survivors are left with a criminal record from sex trafficking victimization. This tells us that there is much more work needed to be done to improve justice system responses in figuring out strategically where resources need to be allocated to improve coverage as well as identifying ways to improve a more centralized form of reporting for human trafficking data.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Human trafficking--Government policy--United States; Human trafficking--Prevention; Uniform Crime Reports (Washington, D.C)

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Criminal Justice (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Criminal Justice (CLA)


Jason D. Scott

Advisor/Committee Member

Judy L. Porter

Advisor/Committee Member

Irshad Altheimer


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes