The first analysis to assess sex trafficking of youth in Milwaukee occurred in 2013 when the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission (MHRC) authored a report that identified 77 sex trafficked youth between 2010 and 2012. Similarly, Proactive Outreach for the Health of Sexually Exploited Youth (POHSEY) conducted a study that identified 143 sex trafficked youth in Milwaukee in 2014. Additionally, the State of Wisconsin submits crime data annually to the FBI, including human trafficking data. In 2015, four sex trafficking incidents were reported in the State of Wisconsin, resulting in two being cleared and zero arrests (FBI, 2015). In 2016, 34 sex trafficking cases were reported in Wisconsin, of which 19 were cleared and 13 adults were arrested (FBI, 2016). These disparate numbers can be explained in part by the methods through which trafficking cases are identified and reported. Clearly, further analysis is needed to estimate the magnitude of sex trafficking occurring in Milwaukee.
As a direct result of the 2013 MHRC sex trafficking report, a new Lad Lake facility outside of Milwaukee County was created with 6 beds to serve juvenile survivors of trafficking. The goal of this report is to expand the knowledge of sex trafficking in Milwaukee. Compared to the 2013 report, this report analyzes victims from a wider age range, over a longer period of time, and uses more comprehensive methods for identifying incidents of trafficking using law enforcement data. Measuring the prevalence of sex trafficking is difficult, and much of the academic literature focuses on the circumstances surrounding trafficking including identifying at-risk youth involvement in the commercial sex trade, risk factors for victimization, the implications of human trafficking laws and responses to human trafficking (Hammond & McGlone, 2014). Therefore, this report is meant to serve as a baseline.
In 2015 the Milwaukee Police Department – Sensitive Crimes Division and Sojourner Family Peace Center were awarded the Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking grant through the U.S. Department of Justice - Office of Justice Programs. One of the deliverables required to satisfy the purpose of the grant is the development of a public awareness curriculum directed at various audiences to include health, law enforcement, code enforcement, social workers, transportation workers and schools. This report fulfils this requirement as it increases the capacity of community members and service providers to understand and recognize human trafficking through the analysis of law enforcement data.
Thank you to the Bob and Linda Davis Family Fund for commissioning, supporting, and encouraging the development and completion of this report. There are also many individuals, agencies, and organizations that have provided support, and whose guidance and expertise have been invaluable in completing this report.
The Milwaukee Sexual Assault Review (MSAR) informed research questions, provided input on and interpretations of the data based on partners’ professional experiences, and actively generated and contextualized recommendations. Project partners are also in the process of obtaining and incorporating data from MSAR partners Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF), Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, and Wisconsin Department of Justice - Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for future supplements of this report.
Proactive Outreach for the Health of Sexually Exploited Youth (POHSEY) has been an instrumental partner, providing interpretations of the data and recommendations from medical perspectives. Additionally, an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Wendi Ehrman of POHSEY seeks to incorporate POSHEY data for future iterations of this report, furthering the understanding of sex trafficking from multidisciplinary perspectives.
Collaborative Rapid Advocacy for Youth (CRAY) informed recommendations from advocacy perspectives and provided additional interpretations of the data based on their experiences and expertise in social service provisions.
Cole, J., Sprang, G., Lee, R., & Cohen, J. (2016). The Trauma of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth: A Comparison of CSE Victims to Sexual Abuse Victims in a Clinical Sample. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 122-146.
Department of Children and Families, (2017). Wisconsin’s Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Indicator and Response Guide. Retrieved from here.
Dikanovic, A.(2016). A Crime Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in Milwaukee. Retrieved from http://milwaukeenns.org/humantrafficking-in-milwaukee/
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), (2016). Crime in the United States – Human Trafficking. Retrieved from here.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), (2017). Operation Cross Country XI. Recovering Underage Victims of Sex Trafficking and Prostitution. Retrieved from here.
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Hammond, G., & McGlone, M. (2014). Entry, Progression, Exit, and Service Provision for Survivors of Sex Trafficking: Implications for Effective Interventions. Global Social Welfare, 157-168.
Lange, A. (2011). Research note: Challenges of identifying female human trafficking victims using a national 1-800 call center. Trends in Organized Crime, 14, 47–55.
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Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, (2013). Estimating the Number of Sex Trafficked Youth Using Contacts with the Milwaukee Police Department. Retrieved from here.
Milwaukee Police Department, (2017). Standard Operating Procedure 263. Records Management. Retrieved from here.
Sullivan, Z. (2015). Hub of Human Trafficking: Underground Sex Trade Thrives in Milwaukee. The Guardian. Retrieved from here.
Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), (2015). Human Trafficking. A guide for criminal justice professionals. Retrieved from here.