Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Criminal Justice

Advisor/Committee Chair

Matt Vogel


In the past two decades, the issue of human trafficking has grown more prominent around the world (Mollema, 2015). According to the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking as well as educating the world on the dangers of human trafficking analyzed data from the Human Trafficking Hotline found that in the year 2021, there were roughly 10,359 cases of human trafficking in the United States with about 16,554 victims (Polaris Project,2022). Out of these cases, approximately 72% (7,498) of them were related to sex trafficking, with the top type of trafficking out of all cases being related to escort services (Polaris Project,2022). This expansion in human trafficking has pushed nations around the globe to enact anti-trafficking laws (Mollema, 2015). The first prominent push for trafficking legislation was in November of 2000 when the United Nations established The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women, and Children, in order to combat human trafficking on a global scale (United Nations, 2000). This protocol created a definition that all countries could use, and the generalities of what crime constituted as human trafficking (United Nations, 2000). Those who signed this treaty pledged to enact their own human trafficking legislation as well as uphold the standards described in the protocol (United Nations, 2000). The United States took that pledge and started this long, winding journey hoping to end human trafficking (Logan et al, 2009).

This article will analyze two pieces of federal human trafficking legislation: The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017, to understand their legislative impacts on the United States. In order to gather a better understanding, this article looks at male and female prostitution arrests from 1986 to 2020 and compares them to the overall population of the United States for those years. The arrest data used in this analysis has been voluntarily reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by law enforcement agencies across the country and published in the Unified Crime Report.

The conclusions found from this analysis would shed light on a topic that has very little reliable data and encourage the federal government to continue to revise anti-trafficking legislation that better addresses the current climate of human trafficking. If federal legislation is modified regularly, it would also encourage states to review their human trafficking laws, so they are better aligned with the national legislation. Once both of these things occur, it will hopefully strengthen the battle against human trafficking, and we will start to see a decline in prostitution arrests because law enforcement is no longer arresting victims and instead focusing on perpetrators.