Evelyn Bush, Correctional Program Specialist at the National Institute of Corrections in Washington, DC joins Lorry to talk about sex trafficking of female inmates. Some of her current work involves sex trafficking and the impact on the lives of women who come in contact with the correctional system. To more adequately educate medical and mental health professionals, she has facilitated the opportunity for a workshop titled Victims Behind Bars: Identifying and Addressing the Sex Trafficking of Women Offenders at the Spring Conference on Correctional Health Care in Minneapolis April 21-24, 2018.
New Name for an Old Problem
Sex trafficking is a subset of human trafficking and is a federal crime under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. The crime is committed when a person by force, fraud or coercion is forced into performing a sex trade/act for someone else’s commercial gain. But what if the person is actively under the correctional jurisdiction/ supervision? The National Institute of Corrections is developing strategies for creating both staff and inmate awareness of the issues of sex trafficking. The National Institute of Corrections is developing strategies for creating both staff and inmate awareness of the issues of sex trafficking.
Not a Victimless Crime
Many women who come into the system are in the sex trade, and not by choice. It is time to realize that prostitution is not a victimless crime. Victims of trafficking are often forced into “the life” of prostitution with an earlier background stemming from alcohol and drug abuse, broken homes, poor self-esteem and prior sexual abuse, with the trauma and victimization carrying well into adulthood. In fact, trafficking victims are often recruited into prostitution, groomed by their trafficker with a relationship and forced to comply through beatings, rape, starvation, and threats of violence to loved ones.
How Do We Respond?
- Upon admission into the system, ensuring that there is an effective screening tool followed by mental health resources trafficking is a first priority.
- Facility operations must examine policy. Examples can include a male visitor who visits multiple inmates during visiting hours or providing money into multiple inmate accounts.
- Post the toll-free hotline in the booking area and housing units: National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Or text HELP to: BeFree (233733)
- Set up a holistic team of support through mental health services
- Thoroughly check out discharge plans and provide community resources.
Do you care for female inmates? Could there be sex trafficking going on in your facility? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.
This post is part of a series discussing topics addressed during sessions of the 2018 Spring Conference on Correctional Health Care. All posts in this series can be found HERE.