In and around San Francisco, the battle against the scourge of human trafficking has made halting progress. State budget cuts and unsteady leadership have hindered local law enforcement agencies and nonprofits, but there are signs of better coordination across the state. This team reporting project first appeared in print issue No. 6 of the San Francisco Public Press, our spring 2012 edition, collaboration with New America Media and San Francisco’s bilingual newspaper, El Tecolote.

Human Trafficking

How an infamous Berkeley human trafficking case fueled reform

Viji Sundaram, New America Media / SF Public Press — Feb 16 2012 - 11:43am

Advocates for increased prison terms say 10-year-old sex trafficking case changed conversation

This special report appeared in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. (Read in Spanish at La Opiñon/Impremedia. Leer en español en La Opiñon/Impremedia.)

Lakireddy Balireddy shocked the Bay Area a decade ago when investigators discovered how the Berkeley landlord transported young women and girls from India for sex. He served eight years in prison. His case still inspires reformers who want to put human traffickers away for longer.This year’s campaign to get tougher anti-trafficking laws on the November ballot as a voter initiative is the latest attempt to deal with what proponents call the unfinished business of legal reform.

Bay Area agencies improvise tactics to battle trafficking

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Feb 15 2012 - 1:47pm

With little guidance from state leaders, local police, nonprofits fight for scarce funding

This special report appeared in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Across California, local agencies have been left to scramble for limited resources and improvise strategies to fight human trafficking, a problem whose scope has yet to be defined with reliable numbers. A high-profile state task force studying California’s human trafficking problem made 46 recommendations in October 2007 but set up no mechanism to monitor progress. Attorney General Kamala Harris has begun picking up the pieces this year. But without clear guidance from the state, nine regional task forces sprung up to devise their own solutions. Their efforts have been supported mostly by federal grants. But as the funding rules become more stringent, the groups at times have been pitted against each other for resources.

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