Northeastern’s Institute on Race and Justice Receives Federal Grant to Continue Tracking Cases of Human Trafficking

BOSTON – October 2, 2008 – The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has just extended funding for the national human trafficking reporting system (HTRS), an initiative led by Amy Farrell, Ph.D. and Jack McDevitt, Ph.D., both from Northeastern University’s Institute on Race & Justice. The funding, a $300,000 grant, will allow for the continuation and expansion of the HTRS, established in January 2008 by researchers at both Northeastern and the Urban Institute as a way to centrally and uniformly collect data on human trafficking investigations.

In recent years, the United States federal government has worked to create awareness of human trafficking throughout the country. In 2000, when the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was passed, it provided, for the first time, protection to victims of human trafficking and a process to prosecute offenders. This law provided funding for the 42 multi-agency human trafficking task forces, made up of representatives from federal, state and local law enforcement and other industries, to identify and investigate cases of human trafficking. At the time, however, there was no system in place to compile the data and monitor the impact of these initiatives over time.

In response, the Bureau of Justice Statistics provided funding for Northeastern University’s Institute on Race and Justice and the Urban Institute to develop a national human trafficking reporting system (HTRS), a web-based tool that allows users to input data for cases of human trafficking and update the file as the case progresses. The HTRS allows for the uniform collection of data by federally-funded task force members and centrally tracks the information. This case-management system allows task force members to update information about each case as it progresses from the investigation to the arrest, prosecution and sentencing.

“This funding will provide the necessary resources to more accurately assess human trafficking cases across the country and expand the programs where it would be most beneficial,” said Amy Farrell, Assistant Professor in the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern.

Prior to the HTRS launch, researchers at both Northeastern and the Urban Institute compiled information on human trafficking cases as reported by national task forces in 2007. This data was then entered into the HTRS and is available for updates. More than 95 percent of the federal task forces have reported information on a regular basis into the HTRS, and to date information on 413 human trafficking investigations from 2007 and 365 from 2008 have been collected.

“The HTRS is a reliable resource that has enabled us to provide accurate and timely information to the Department of Justice so that they can continue to monitor the progress of the initiatives in place to combat human trafficking,” added Jack McDevitt, Associate Dean of the College of Criminal Justice and Director of the Institute on Race and Justice.

The objectives of the project expansion include enhancing the current data collection process to provide accurate and usable data when reporting to the BJS, more regular reporting to the BJS, working with current task forces to ensure timely reporting, providing technical assistance to users and, perhaps, expanding the system to non-task forces law enforcement agencies.

For more information about the HTRS, please visit or contact Jenny Eriksen at (617) 373-2802 or via email 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