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Understanding the Bay Area's human trafficking problem: KPFA News interviews reporter Jason Winshell

SF Public Press
 — Mar 14 2012 - 2:21pm

The Public Press’ latest cover story, on California’s uncoordinated attack on the problem of human trafficking, has been picked up in a variety of media since the publication of the special team reporting project in the Spring 2012 edition: “Force, Fraud Coercion: Human Trafficking in the Bay Area.” The project was produced in collaboration with New America Media and El Tecolote, San Francisco’s bilingual newspaper.

Last week Public Press reporter Jason Winshell was interviewed on KPFA Radio by producer Anthony Fest. Winshell’s lead story showed that four years after a high-profile state task force issued a study, many of its recommendations for better laws, funding and coordination among agencies have yet to materialize.

In the KPFA interview, Winshell dispelled the widely held public perception that human trafficking is synonymous with international sex trafficking — crimes in which primarily women are promised jobs in the U.S. by shady human smugglers, only to find themselves forced to work as prostitutes in hidden brothels. Human trafficking is broader than that — the extraction of any kind of labor by force, fraud or coercion. Although immigrants are common targets of traffickers, U.S. citizens are trafficked as well, and trafficking need not involve crossing international borders.

Fest asked Winshell about a theme running through the Public Press stories: the lack of follow-up on calls for better coordination to address human trafficking by state officials. After the state task force published its 2007 detailed recipe for combating human trafficking, it disbanded without providing any blueprint for implementing the recommendations.

Read full coverage of human trafficking in the San Francisco Public Press Spring 2012 print edition, on sale at retail outlets around San Francisco and online at


I agree with your editorial of March 12, 2012 You seem to have concluded that Human Trafficking is a social problem that is not only affecting illegal immigrants; however, it is also affecting United States citizens. According to National Center for Mission and Exploited Children existing 150,000 sex slaves in the US and prevention of the 300,000 US children at risk of becoming trafficked (NCMEC). Furthermore, you state that there is a lack of follow up calls for better coordination to address human trafficking by state officials. The statements that you are making relate to Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act HR 2730. It is a Federal piece of legislation first introduced by California Democrat Karen Bass in August of 2011. Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act seeks to fortify existing components of the child welfare response and also seeks to support them through streamlined training, collaboration, reporting, licensing, and case planning recommendations from the nation’s Health and Human Services Secretary to state agencies. Such recommendations that are proposed serve to aid in the identification, education, documenting and counseling court employees and appropriate child welfare responders. In addition, the Secretary shall give recommendations on how non-profit agencies may collaborate with law enforcement to achieve such goals. State level law enforcement, appropriate child welfare employees, and court employees will be required to then report and provide support to these victims.
This bill will not only support conclusions that were made in this article but also help aid the social problem of Human Trafficking.