The state’s court system will launch a broad program targeting human trafficking, with New York’s legal and law enforcement branches partnering to intervene with victims forced into the sex trade.
New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative on Wednesday, calling it a first-of-its-kind program that would connect victims to available resources—such as shelter options and job-training programs. New Human Trafficking Courts would be launched across the state to deal with potential victims charged of prostitution crimes.
“Human trafficking is a horrific crime that inflicts terrible harm on its victims, a form of modern-day slavery that we simply cannot tolerate in a civilized society,” Lippman said in a statement. “We now recognize that the vast majority of individuals charged with prostitution offenses are commercially exploited or at risk of exploitation.”
He continued: “By offering vital services instead of punishment to these defendants, the Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative will act to transform and save lives—and in turn, enable law enforcement to identify, investigate and punish the traffickers.”
The program, according to the court system, will take those accused of prostitution and consider them trafficking victims. They’ll be evaluated by a judge in Human Trafficking Court, where they can be connected to services like drug rehabilitation if it’s deemed necessary.
District attorneys, meanwhile, will increase their efforts to bust traffickers, according to the courts.