Tara Burns is creating Public Records On Sex Work and Sex Trafficking
22

patrons

$102
per bit of research

How are sex trafficking and prostitution laws used? Despite the raging international debate on sex work policy, we have very little data here in the United States to answer that question. This is a journalistic project to uncover the public records that exist and turn them into usable data.

At the end of 2013 as part of my master’s thesis (People in Alaska’s Sex Trades: Their Lived Experiences and Policy Recommendations, available on ProQuest) I made a public records request for every case that had been charged under Alaska’s sex trafficking law, passed in 2012. Even I was surprised by the results: every single person who had been charged with sex trafficking was a sex worker who was charged with prostitution of themselves in the same case they were charged with sex trafficking either themselves or their coworkers. No children had been found, no victims had been rescued – in fact, the two people who could have been considered victims (their coworker was charged with trafficking them) were charged with and convicted of prostitution.  Later, I found that the 2013 Uniform Crime Report had over reported prostitution arrests in Alaska by over 600.

Sex trafficking under federal law is the use of force, fraud, or coercion against people in the sex trade, or any involvement of minors. States, however, have their own sex trafficking laws, which vary greatly in their definitions of sex trafficking. How are these different laws being used?

I’m going state by state (or in some cases, metro area by metro area) and making public records requests for charging documents and court orders in every case of prostitution, promoting prostitution, and sex trafficking filed in 2013 and 2014. Then I read each case and enter it into a database where I track factors such as race, immigrant status, street involvement, minors, allegations of abuse, whether workers were charged as the result of trying to report that they were the victim of a crime, whether police describe having sexual contact with them before arresting them, etc.

This all takes many, many hours – hours that can be hard to find among all the other things to do and the necessity of making a living. That’s where you come in: you can pledge to support the project in whatever amount you want - $1, $5, $20, $100 – every time I spend a day on the research and post about it. You’ll also get up to the moment updates on all the research I’m doing. Sometimes it will be boring updates about my appeals of records requests denials and such. Other times I’ll tell you what I’m finding, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, and quote from charging documents as examples.

You get to come along on the whole journey.  Really, you make the whole thing possible.
Tiers
Pledge $1 or more per bit of research
12 patrons
You'll get access on the patron-only channel to see everything I do and learn!
Pledge $5 or more per bit of research
16 patrons
You'll get access on the patron-only channel to see everything I do and learn!

Also, you get my eternal gratitude!
Pledge $20 or more per bit of research
2 patrons
You'll get access on the patron-only channel to see everything I do!

Plus you get my eternal gratitude AND I will investigate your state or issue after I get done with Alaska, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Pledge $50 or more per bit of research
0 patrons
Get a special thank you in publications that I create out of this project.
Goals
$102 of $130 per bit of research
This would allow me to stop focusing so much on paid work and make this project a priority.
2 of 4

How are sex trafficking and prostitution laws used? Despite the raging international debate on sex work policy, we have very little data here in the United States to answer that question. This is a journalistic project to uncover the public records that exist and turn them into usable data.

At the end of 2013 as part of my master’s thesis (People in Alaska’s Sex Trades: Their Lived Experiences and Policy Recommendations, available on ProQuest) I made a public records request for every case that had been charged under Alaska’s sex trafficking law, passed in 2012. Even I was surprised by the results: every single person who had been charged with sex trafficking was a sex worker who was charged with prostitution of themselves in the same case they were charged with sex trafficking either themselves or their coworkers. No children had been found, no victims had been rescued – in fact, the two people who could have been considered victims (their coworker was charged with trafficking them) were charged with and convicted of prostitution.  Later, I found that the 2013 Uniform Crime Report had over reported prostitution arrests in Alaska by over 600.

Sex trafficking under federal law is the use of force, fraud, or coercion against people in the sex trade, or any involvement of minors. States, however, have their own sex trafficking laws, which vary greatly in their definitions of sex trafficking. How are these different laws being used?

I’m going state by state (or in some cases, metro area by metro area) and making public records requests for charging documents and court orders in every case of prostitution, promoting prostitution, and sex trafficking filed in 2013 and 2014. Then I read each case and enter it into a database where I track factors such as race, immigrant status, street involvement, minors, allegations of abuse, whether workers were charged as the result of trying to report that they were the victim of a crime, whether police describe having sexual contact with them before arresting them, etc.

This all takes many, many hours – hours that can be hard to find among all the other things to do and the necessity of making a living. That’s where you come in: you can pledge to support the project in whatever amount you want - $1, $5, $20, $100 – every time I spend a day on the research and post about it. You’ll also get up to the moment updates on all the research I’m doing. Sometimes it will be boring updates about my appeals of records requests denials and such. Other times I’ll tell you what I’m finding, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, and quote from charging documents as examples.

You get to come along on the whole journey.  Really, you make the whole thing possible.

Recent posts by Tara Burns

Tiers
Pledge $1 or more per bit of research
12 patrons
You'll get access on the patron-only channel to see everything I do and learn!
Pledge $5 or more per bit of research
16 patrons
You'll get access on the patron-only channel to see everything I do and learn!

Also, you get my eternal gratitude!
Pledge $20 or more per bit of research
2 patrons
You'll get access on the patron-only channel to see everything I do!

Plus you get my eternal gratitude AND I will investigate your state or issue after I get done with Alaska, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Pledge $50 or more per bit of research
0 patrons
Get a special thank you in publications that I create out of this project.