Sex Trafficking

Watch: Reason Panel on Sex-Trafficking Policies

Reason staffers Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Lauren Galik join panelists from the Sex Workers Outreach Project and Families Against Mandatory Minimums to talk about human-trafficking laws in America.


Reason TV

Last week, we hosted a panel discussion on sex-trafficking policies in Reason's Washington, D.C., office. We were a bit worried because we aimed to challenge conventional narratives about sex trafficing in America, which is a narrative many people are quite fond of, and some had threatened to come and cause a disturbance during the event. But that proved to be a bluff. The discussion not only went down with no issues, it elicited a lot of thoughtful questions and positive comments during a post-panel Q&A and reception, with quite a few people remarking that they had no idea the lengths to which the government was going to target not just traffickers but also sex workers, their clients, and anyone involved in prostitution in any way. 

Joining me on the panel was Katie Hail-Jares, a board member for the Sex Workers Outreach Project and Georgetown University researcher, and Molly Gill, government affairs counsel with Families Against Mandatory Minimums. It was moderated by Lauren Galik, Reason Foundation's director of criminal justice reform, and Reason TV's Josh Swain filmed the event.

The full panel (minus the Q&A) is posted below. Don't have the time or inclination to watch it all? The following links will let you jump in at various points in the conversation:

Molly Gill

• on new crimes and mandatory minimums created under the recently passed Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act
• on how federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws reflect the evolution of our moral panics
• on "Kate's Law," which would add a mandatory minimum for illegal re-entry into the U.S.

Reason TV

Katie Hail-Jares:

• on, New York's human-trafficking intervention courts, and how the increased focus on catching sex traffickers affects those willingly working in prostitution
• on Monica Jones and Arizona's now-defunct "prostitution diversion" program, Project Rose
• on Alaska madam Amber Batt, who was charged with sex-trafficking herself 
• on what researchers know about minors engaged in sex work in America  
• on whether current policies are effective at helping sex-traffickng victims

Elizabeth Nolan Brown: 

• on the commonly cited stat that 300,000 U.S. children are trafficked for sex each year 
• on the feds' steady ramping up of sex-trafficking penalties over the past 15 years
• on trends in state laws against sex trafficking
• on why people should care about tougher penalties for traffickers and "pimps" 
• on "john stings" versus less police-focused policies for helping victims

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  1. Sex, rape, gay marriage.

    Let me tell you what I do with MY dick!

    1. “Peeps be all trippin” is what truly separates us from animals.

  2. Oh, Elizabeth’s in this? [looks at program]

  3. So the Oath Keepers are a “patriot” group but this panel wasn’t on “Sex-Trafficking” Policies? Interesting.

    1. And the scare quotes belong on this panel. “Sex-Trafficking” is a made up term that apparently applies to any hooker who gets on an airplane.

      1. Yep. Sweeping anti-trafficking laws were passed in the EU on the merits of research that supposedly showed 100,000 women and children being trafficked into the EU every year. Of course, it was only after the laws were passed that it came out that in fact the researchers had pointed to evidence showing that somewhere between, oh, 100 ad 1,000 women and children were being trafficked annually. Activists ran with it, blithely tacking on a few extra zeros, because as we all know, at least 90 percent of sexual crimes go unreported. In their defense, the scientists involved were horrified to see their research abused so flagrantly, but there wasn’t anything they could do.

        This incident is a prime example of why I don’t trust activists. A wise man powerful supervillain once said, “Never trust a beautiful woman, especially one who’s interested in you.”

        I pay tribute to those words of wisdom cynicism in NSD Maxim No. 23: “Never trust an activist, especially one with whose cause you agree.”

      2. I looked up that Amber Batts woman and noticed that she was charged with all sorts of sex-trafficking offenses despite the fact that there is no evidence she ever coerced anyone.

        She basically facilitated liaisons between girls and johns, which pretty much proves sex-trafficking is a nonsense term that no longer has anything to do with legitimate coercion.

        And I found an article on her which has comments showing exactly how this shit is allowed to continue:

        Lance O’Neill ? Board of Trustees at Klukwan, Inc
        What a ridiculous plea deal! They forcible pimped 50 women to 800 clients for many years while under probation and they only face a minimum of 4 years and the guy gets probation? There clearly is no justice. It should have been at least 4 years per woman w/ no chance of parole.

        Fuck you, Lance.

        1. Yeah, Lance, what Irish expressed.

    2. Yes, they are a “patriot” group. This is tiresome.

    3. More interesting stuff: libertarians should apparently support being forced to paying taxes to Planned Parenthood!

  4. OT: Speaking of getting screwed:

    CTV’s Los Angeles Bureau Chief Tom Walters is facing a charge of interfering with a police officer, nearly a year after he was arrested while covering protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

    Walters was detained on Aug. 20, 2014, after trying to ask Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson a question. His arrest was captured on video.

    Walters was released after about eight-and-a-half hours without being charged. But he recently received a summons to appear in a St. Louis. Mo., court later this month on a charge of interfering with a police officer in performance of his duty, for allegedly “failing to comply with officers’ lawful commands to disperse from West Florissant Avenue.”

    1. Ferguson, Missouri: where the cops are both evil AND stupid!

  5. I watched last night. Very informative. Nice job ENB!

  6. It’s sad when such an event can’t even get a bomb threat like the GamerGate meetup in DC a few months back.

    1. Not gonna lie, was really excited by the prospect of protesters and disappointed we had none. It seems ones of the panelist’s church members is an employee of one of the major anti-trafficking ngos, which is how we even got on their radar.

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