Human Trafficking Courts Evaluation

Female face Human Trafficking Happens Here Too

Human Trafficking Courts Evaluation

The U.S. Government defines human trafficking as:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.
  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. [source]

The Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education provides research and evaluation services in both Cuyahoga and Summit Counties for the prevention of this grave violation of human rights.

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court’s Safe Harbor Docket

The Begun Center has completed a process and outcome evaluation of the Safe Harbor docket in Cuyahoga County’s Juvenile Court. The research was funded by a Research Training and Development seed grant from the Mandel School. A process map was developed that follows individual potential victims through the Safe Harbor process to capture points for improvement. The court is also developing effective measures of “success.” The current definition of success (completing the program, having records expunged, and not selling sex at all) limits understanding how the program impacts participants as this is a long-term process, not an immediate solution.

Summit County Juvenile Court Restore Court

Summit County Juvenile Court logo

Research Team: Jeff Kretschmar, PhD

Summit County Juvenile Court’s Restore Court, a program dedicated to juvenile victims of human trafficking and youth at high risk for being trafficked, is Ohio’s first Supreme Court-certified specialized docket for juvenile victims of human trafficking. Based largely on the Safe Harbor statute, the program permits the court to focus more on the juvenile’s status as a victim than on the conduct that brought the juvenile before the court, thus serving as an alternative to criminalization. Successful completion of the program can result in charges being dropped.

Critical components of the Restore Court program include the following:

  1. Specially trained probation officers, case managers, and guardians ad litem assigned to each youth;

  2. Mental health and substance abuse treatment;

  3. Mentoring through Rahab Ministries;

  4. Frequent and random drug testing;

  5. Connection to pro-social activities;

  6. Education and employment assistance; and

  7. Use of incentives and sanctions to support youth in progression toward achieving goals and program completion.

The program consists of three phases and each participant assists in creating her/his personal case plan and treatment objectives. The Begun Center provides evaluation support to the Court, and gathers data related to participants’ problem severity and functioning, substance use, educational outcomes, trauma symptoms, recidivism, and perceptions of Restore Court.

Other Work

The Mandel School is formally a participating organization with the Greater Cleveland’s Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking (GCCRHT), which is coordinated by the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. Drs. Lovell and Luminais are active participants with the GCCRHT and serve on the Response and Intervention Committee. This GCCRHT was created in order to respond to human trafficking issues expected to result from hosting the Republican National Committee in Cleveland in July 2016. The community recognized a need to organize to effectively address possible issues of human trafficking, and has since continued to be very active.

Begun Center Director Daniel J. Flannery, PhD serves on the Board of Directors for the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking.


Kretschmar, J., and Teodosio, L. (2018, November). How Ohio’s Restore Court Focuses on Helping Sex Trafficked Youth. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

Lovell, R., Luminais, M., and Coen Flynn, K. (2018, January). Structural Misgendering Of Transgender Sex Workers in Chicago Via Mug Shots? A Case Study Of Practicing in the Social Sciences. Society for Applied Anthropology.

In the Media

Community partnership helps human trafficking victims. CWRU Observer, December 2018.