The Human Trafficking Legal Center, Fact Sheet: Human Trafficking & Forced Labor in For Profit Detention Facilities
Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) to inject “new potency in the Thirteenth Amendment’s guarantee of freedom: whether on farms or sweatshops, in domestic service or forced prostitution.”1 Federal criminal law has long recognized forced labor under threat of criminal sanction as a form of involuntary servitude.2 In 2003 Congress added a powerful enforcement mechanism: a private right of action permitting victims to hold their traffickers accountable.3 In the 15 years since Congress created the civil provision under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), trafficking survivors have brought more than 270 cases alleging forced labor and involuntary servitude in a wide array of contexts, ranging from slaughterhouses to construction sites, from nursing homes to mansions. 4 Many traffickers who previously would have enjoyed impunity must now answer for their crimes in federal civil courts.In the past four years, civil attorneys have filed cutting-edge federal trafficking cases against individuals and entities associated with the U.S. penal system. At least 17 civil cases include allegations that private prison corporations, municipalities, and detention facilities (among others) have violated federal anti-trafficking, involuntary servitude, and forced labor laws.5 Six of these cases involve claims of abuse committed by private corporations against civil immigration detainees. An additional six cases charge that municipalities and other officials conspired to create a system of debt servitude. The remaining five cases point to exploitation in a range of settings, including a purported drug rehabilitation facility, the mental health unit of a prison, and a monitored release program. This factsheet analyzes this litigation, drawing lessons from both ongoing and resolved cases.
Read the full factsheet here.