A team project from the San Francisco Public Press, New America Media and El Tecolote
Ten years after a high-profile sex slavery case in Berkeley shocked California into passing its first anti-trafficking laws and creating a constellation of redundant task forces, some of the biggest promises by politicians remain unfulfilled. Human trafficking laws are inconsistently applied, and rarely used by prosecutors. Uncoordinated human trafficking investigations by prostitution-focused urban vice squads have led federal officials to demand collaboration with federal law enforcement as terms of receiving money.
Now pressure is growing on law enforcement and other agencies to crack down on a crime whose extent is devilishly hard to measure. A California group is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to increase criminal penalties for labor and sexual exploitation. But even these laws are only a piece of the solution.
The San Francisco Public Press has been working with freelance writers for months to take a deep dive into the problems facing officials and nonprofit groups in helping victims and catching traffickers. But we need to double our seed funding to help compensate seven reporters, researchers and graphic artists, to procure legal documents and to produce video interviews with experts and crime victims.
We will publish our findings in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press, and online at sfpublicpress.org. The San Francisco Public Press is collaborating with the New America Media, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the bilingual newspaper El Tecolote. Articles will be distributed to dozens of other ethnic newspapers across the state to raise awareness of resources and issues in affected communities. Themes in our coverage will include: