Taliah Ahdut


The purpose of this Note is to critique the current paradigm in place for resolving the sex trafficking of youth in Washington and compare it to the current model utilized in Minnesota. The Minnesota model should be used to provide a framework for Washington to revise its current model because Washington’s current model allows for sexually exploited youth to be funneled in and out of the criminal justice system, limiting the chances for trafficked victims to reach out to members of the community for assistance. These changes could ultimately increase the opportunities for trafficked youth and position them in the best situation possible to leave their exploiters. By embracing a more involved Child Protective Service agency, Washington would increase its chances of identifying exploited youth. An increase in identification of exploited youth would also allow services to target subjugated youth, allowing victims of child sex trafficking to access safe and supportive housing, effective intervention methods, medical care, and other supportive services. Part I of this Note provides a portrait of the type of youth most commonly victimized by traffickers and exploiters and uses this portrait, in turn, to display the need for a more involved Child Protective Service agency. Part II provides background on the current safe harbor laws currently used in several states’ criminal justice programs. This section details which actions prove useful and which prove more detrimental to the proposed goal of preventing youth trafficking. This includes Washington’s implementation of its own safe harbor laws. Part III outlines the many deficiencies involved in the current Washington model. Part IV outlines the model used in Minnesota to combat the trafficking of youth. Minnesota’s “No Wrong Door” policy provides a comprehensive framework to stave off future instances of sexual exploitation. Part V discusses the implementation of the Minnesota model, along with some alternatives and additions geared exclusively to Washington, to be used to strengthen current sexual exploitation prevention efforts in Washington. This framework will provide a much more comprehensive program that will be far more effective in combating the pervasive and shameful practice of sexually exploiting minors. The program promotes a safe and useful resource for sexually exploited youth to find security, reassurance, and service programs necessary for their recovery.