Posts tagged with "Runaways"

Prisons and Jails: A Fertile Recruiting Ground for Human Trafficking

When you think of human trafficking, here are two factors you may not have considered. Both of these factors involve the need for prison reform.

  1. 1.Too often traffickers target female prisoners on their release.  
  2. 2.Children of mothers who are incarcerated all too often end up in foster care. If they run away from foster care, which is a serious risk, they will be attractive prey for human traffickers.

Lets deal first with the issue of incarcerated women being trafficked after theyre released.  

Incarcerated women who Get Trafficked

Although what youre about to read is a composite, its based on real people, known to your author.  Ive met them because of a prison visit organized by the prison reform organization, Defy Ventures.

 So, lets suppose for a seriously unpleasant moment, that youre in a womens prison, and youve been there for five years. Youre in for attempted murder, and while normally youd be in for much longer than five years, in this case, youve been a model prisoner.  

You had an enormous incentive to be a model prisoner because you have a daughter you havent seen since she was seven. Making parole as fast as possible is the most important thing in your life. 

During your five years, youve spent almost every waking second thinking about her, wondering how shes doing, missing her, regretting that one terrible day which happens to be the worst day of your life, when you shot at your abuser because you just couldnt take one second more of his battering.

Today youve made parole and youre about to walk out of the correctional facility and leave the guards and the locked doors and the claustrophobia. However, once you walk out the door, youre up against a horrific problem.

Where are you going to find an apartment? Youre a convicted felon, one whos done time, and it seems that the only landlords who will consider you are slum landlords. They preside over rodent-infested, drug-infested, crime-infested, buildings where the heat goes off, the water may not work, and ceiling leaks go unattended. It’s a nightmare.

On top of that, you’re in one of the  many parts of the county where having a criminal history automatically disqualifies you from access to public housing.

And then theres the question of getting a job.  What decent job is available to you, now that youre a convicted felon? The data shows that it is already hard enough for women to reenter the workforce after a prolonged period out of the job market. You’re now discovering how hard it is to reenter the workforce after a prolonged period of incarceration.

Youre wrestling with these two realities, and as you take your first steps into the seemingly unreal and terrifying world of freedom, a seeming miracle happens!  By chance (except it wasnt by chance) you meet this warm and wonderful guy outside the prison gate who wants to help you!

Hes kind and gentle and reassuring.  He completely understands you and offers you a place to stay and a nice, non-prison meal.  Youre so grateful!

Unfortunately for you, hes a pimp.  He knows youre vulnerable, and although he started out as a Romeo pimp, he quickly turns into a guerrilla pimp.  In a matter of days, youre being sex-trafficked, and if you dont have sex with as many as a dozen strangers each night, hell beat, starve and torture you.

Children of Incarcerated Women Can End Up Trafficked

And what about your dream of reuniting with your daughter?  In the next couple of weeks, you learn from others who are being trafficked out why she never visited you in prison. She hated her foster family, ran away, and a trafficker found her and shes now living the same wretched life that you are.

Her chances of escaping the life” and your chances of escaping are less than 2%. If youre lucky, you may age out” of forced prostitution, but in the case of your daughter, the most likely outcome is shell die of an overdose, suicide, disease, or murder. 

As Marcus Glover, head of Defy points out, Traffickers have identified the prison system as fertile recruitment grounds for their stables.’”

When considering prison reform, keep in mind the prison and human-trafficking connection. Its real, its horrifying, if we care about human trafficking, it deserves our attention.

For more information on prison reform and human trafficking, contact Marcus Glover at marcus@mglovercapital.com or visit his website at https://www.defyventures.org.

 

Let’s Talk about LGBTQ Young People

By Mitzi Perdue

Want an extraordinary statistic? One that is deeply disturbing and that may be even worse than it seems?

Forty percent of runaway and homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. That makes them prime targets for either survival sex or for being victims of sex-trafficking. 

Meredith Dank, a Consultant at the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, suspects that the 40% figure is an understatement.  As part of her research, she’s interviewed 289 youth who identify as LGBTQ, and as a result of her experience in the field, she believes that the 40% figure is outdated. She hopes that new research will be undertaken to update it.

The 40% statistic may be understated, but Dank is pleased that the subject of LGBTQ youth vulnerability is becoming more a part of the conversation.  “In the past, when people spoke about building awareness, when you brought up gender non-conforming youth, people didn’t want to discuss it further.”

However, the topic needs and deserves our attention. LGBTQ young people are particularly at risk.

 LGBTQ Young People at Risk

They’re at risk because they may be without a support system. Too often they’ve come from families with a history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or neglect. Or their families kicked them out because of their gender identity.

According to Dank, youngster who has been kicked out will have a tenfold increase in vulnerability. They may have “couch surfed” to find a place with friends to stay, or maybe they’re hungry.

The problem is, they have few options. And so they move to survival sex.

As one Spanish and black 19 year old female said, survival sex, “.. .is not as bad as sleeping under the bridge, it’s not as bad as going without food, it’s not as bad as walking around slanging [selling cocaine or other narcotics].”

  Preventive Services

 Dank wishes both society and the criminal justice system would rethink how we respond to the LGBTQ young person who is engaged in survival sex. They may not have experienced force, fraud or coercion but they nevertheless need assistance. 

Here are some recommendations for providing assistance for non-gender-conforming young people.

  1. When providing services, hire people who reflect the populations you’re serving,
  2. For trans youth, make sure they’re connected to health providers who know how to be with trans kids.
  3. Have available social workers with training in how to work with young people who are struggling with their identity or who are transitioning, 

Dank believes that with better preventive services, fewer young LGBTQ people would feel the need to engage in survival sex, and fewer would be vulnerable to being trafficked.

If you were to talk with Dank, you’d quickly get a sense that she cares deeply about the non-gender-conforming young people she works with. In fact more than that, she is in awe of them. “They are the most resilient people you’ve ever met in your whole life. They’ve faced things that you can’t imagine, and yet they’re still out there, making it!”

If want to read the research, go to:
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/42186/2000119-Surviving-the-Streets-of-New-York.pdf