The Underprosecution of Labor Trafficking

Annie Smith


Most law enforcement efforts concerning human trafficking focus on sex trafficking. Labor trafficking remains a devastating yet under-prosecuted crime. This Article identifies causes of the ongoing failure to prosecute labor trafficking, including phenomena the Article refers to as workplace exceptionalism, the labor trafficking eclipse, and maladaptive law enforcement strategies. The Article considers critiques of a carceral approach and argues for thoughtfully increasing appropriate labor trafficking prosecutions. Informed by insights of survivors, anti-trafficking advocates, prosecutors, and scholars across disciplines, it proposes reforms to strategically increase prosecutions.