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Northeastern University Institute Awarded Grant to Create National Human Trafficking Reporting System

The Institute on Race and Justice (IRJ) at Northeastern University was awarded a $440,448 grant by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), U.S. Department of Justice, to develop and implement the first data collection and reporting system on cases of human trafficking. In collaboration with the Urban Institute (UI) in Washington D.C., the Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS) will be designed, piloted and rolled out to human trafficking task forces throughout the U.S., starting January 1, 2008.

“Prevention and intervention strategies currently lack a nationwide system that collects and disseminates data about incidents, investigations, arrests and prosecutions,” said Jack McDevitt, Director of the IRJ. “This project will be a groundbreaking way of dealing with this problem and will create a novel information hub that connects individuals and organizations working toward eliminating human trafficking.”

McDevitt and Amy Farrell, Associate Director at the IRJ and Principal Research Scientist, have been researching what the federal government calls “a modern day form of slavery” for the past several years. As part of the HTRS project, their research team will work closely with 42 federally-funded human trafficking task forces to develop a standardized reporting mechanism that will capture information on human trafficking cases.

“Until now, most human trafficking cases have come to the attention of law enforcement through agencies involved with one of these existing task forces,” said Amy Farrell. “As a coordinated strategy, the new system will routinely collect information directly from the task forces on the number and demographic characteristics of persons engaged in severe forms of human trafficking, and provide a reliable network for law enforcement agencies, U.S. attorneys’ offices and victim service providers.”

In order to develop the most effective reporting system, McDevitt and Farrell will convene an Advisory Board composed of principle staff members from the IRJ, the UI and the Polaris Project (international organization combating human trafficking), as well as representatives from human trafficking task forces nationwide. These collaborators will assist and advise investigators in the design and implementation of the HTRS program.

Starting in January of 2008, data collection will take place on a monthly basis IRJ and UI research staff will additionally collect retrospective information on all human trafficking incidents, arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations that occurred in 2007 for inclusion in the legislatively mandated 2008 report to Congress as required by the Trafficking and Victims Protection Reauthorization Acts of 2005. The two institutions will also provide training and onsite technical assistance throughout the course of the project to help task force agencies complete reporting into the HTRS. The final report will include recommendations for potential expansion of the program beyond task force agencies.

For more information on The Institute on Race and Justice and the Human Trafficking Reporting System, please contact Renata Nyul at 617-373-7424 or at

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions. For more information, please visit

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